Part Three: A Year Later

Every night, after a day of walking on New York City streets, I wash my feet before slipping under the covers.

The city demands a lot out of you. You’re required to walk everywhere, squeeze in between unshowered bodies on the train, stand for long periods of time, and collect grime under your feet. It’s so easy to ruin shoes here. In a city with the world’s most expensive stuff, I find it best not to get too attached to anything because I’ll most likely leave it somewhere or mess it up. This disposability works well for New Yorkers. Apartments here are so tiny there’s not much room to possess more than what you need. It’s why a lot of people eat out; kitchens are too damn small and, in the summer, a hot stove  just warms an already unconditioned living room.

Before moving here, I’d learned to let go of most of my possessions. I’d lived out of suitcases while traveling abroad and interning in the summer. It’s amazing how quickly humans adapt because I didn’t miss anything. So, imagine how surprised I was to see just how much stuff I’d amassed as a young professional in Virginia. There, my room had hardwood floors, a wall-to-wall bookshelf, a fireplace, two closets. Here, despite downsizing, my room barely fit the furniture I brought with me, and I had to let go of my beloved reading chair.

I haven’t missed it. Too much.

It doesn’t quite feel like it’s been a year. But in a few weeks, when the opressive summer heat gives way to what I hope will be a cool fall, I’ll have been here for exactly that long.

This time last year I was probably obsessively scanning messageboards and blogs to learn from people who made the same move. If you’re ever at a loss for what to say to someone in New York, always start with, “Where are you from?” The rest will come naturally. Everyone has a story, a goal, a reason for being here. Many don’t stay longer than a year or two, which makes it difficult to forge deep friendships. You have to keep in mind it’s a transient city that attracts certain types of people separated by their motives. There are the ambitious sort who are here to work; there are the vagabonds who stay for a while and move on. And then there are those who discover the city isn’t really for them and, chalking it up to life experience, leave for good.

They say the first year is the hardest, and afterward things get easier. I’ve been lucky.

As soon as I arrived, I hit the ground running. I started writing unpaid for news sites to update my clips. I made some contacts, with the intention of freelancing or finding a job, any job that paid the bills. I explored the city, taking pictures and recording my observations on my blog. I spent much of my time alone, though spending time with friends from college and the Bronx helped stave off loneliness. Then there were the friends I made elsewhere, from my past life as a reporter, from some random experience somewhere. It was easy to find someone to do something with, though difficult to run into anyone because different groups of people like different kinds of things. I still don’t have a favorite bar for that reason.

A year later, I’m reminded that moving somewhere doesn’t make it your home. It takes time, especially because I moved right before the holidays, which required a few trips home, and especially because I’m at that age when everyone’s graduating, getting married, or still expecting you to make it to things that used to take you 20 minutes to get to.

Nearly four months after I moved, a year since my former life ended, and with my money running low, I found a job in publishing.  It’s challenging, it pays the bills, and I’m currently functioning on caffeine and alcohol. Though I’m looking forward to taking a break in a few weeks, the masochist in me is totally enjoying it.

Looking back, it would be easy to say I was lucky. Which I was. But, when you think about it, it took a lot of blind faith to even get here, with no contacts in my field, no prospect of anything waiting for me.  There were some rough spots, given that not everyone supported my decision and money was always tight.  My friends kept me sane.

Overall, I’ve found that the fear of what’s to come is often far more crippling than when it actually happens, though it doesn’t come without sacrifice. It’s true that to live here and to succeed, you have to be willing to forgo the amenities you can get elsewhere for much cheaper.  What makes it even more daunting, though, is being away from everyone who matters.

Fortunately, I’ve found some great people here, too, and the rest are just an e-mail away.

This is the third and last installment of the series I’ve so dramatically titled “The NYC Chronicles.” You can find the first two here and here.

About the picture: I’d been sitting on Union Square for a while, reading a book and listening to the street musicians nearby. It was interesting to see them interact with everyone who came up to them, European tourists, random passersby. Then there was a guy who asked them if his son could play the drums for a bit. They humored him and were immediately surprised by how good the boy was. He drew a bigger crowd than the two men could muster — After all, who doesn’t love magical little boy musicians (See August Rush)? Afterward, one of the street musicians said to the boy, “You made my day, my week, my hope for the next generation.”

12 responses to “Part Three: A Year Later”

  1. That is a cute story about the little boy at Union Square.

    As for your move back to New York — it’s really inspiring. You speak very accurately of what you know of New York City which I find comforting as a New Yorker myself. Sometimes I wish I could just pack up and leave, but sometimes the idea of being born and living in one of the greatest cities in the world always stops me.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cin! I think it wouldn’t hurt to see what else the world has to offer, and, barring a nuclear meltdown (Did I just jinx myself?), New York will always be here waiting for you. I wouldn’t have had such an outsider perspective of the city had I not spent so much time elsewhere. If you do pack up and leave, good luck and have an amazing time. Be sure to write about it 🙂

  2. If I had to use one word to describe your posts it would have to be “honest”. I’m sure I could come up with several other words to add to the list, but I really do enjoy reading your writing when I get the chance to read. You make use of every word in your writing. Thoroughly enjoyed this 3-part series and am looking forward to another recap on life a year from now. Keep on. =)

    1. Thanks, Steven. I realized I never really articulated why I moved and how life in the city has been. A year seemed like a good time to do that 😉

  3. Whenever you write, especially about your NYC experiences/feelings, it makes me want to write too. I rarely follow through with the feeling, as my poor loyal blog followers (incl Steven lol) know, but I hope you realize that feeling is a compliment to you.

    1. I’m glad I’ve roped you into possibly writing or even just thinking about your blog. It’s all part of my master plan to create a blog network of awesome people. First, get my friends into it. Then… THE WORLD!

      But seriously, thank you 🙂

  4. PS: Is it bad I don’t even know how long I’ve been in NY. lol.

  5. awesome! you detail your travels in such a way that i can be in those places vicariously.

    we miss you, richmond misses you – but keep the pen sharp. your style has matured, for want of a better word – quite a metamorphosis from when you started writing, at age three, to mom in the middle east. she saved the little museum notes somewhere in the house…..hmmm….

    btw, did you take a photo of anne frank’s beloved tree? i heard something about it not being there anymore. i’ll check what happened to it….

    1. Hey fasha! I knew you’d stumble upon my blog sooner or later. I hear you’re becoming quite the computer nerd. Stay off Facebook! It’s bad for you.

      I used to read those letters. I think she keeps them in a photo album — heelarious! I guess I’ve somewhat gotten better since then 😉

      I heard about the tree. I stupidly didn’t even think to take a picture of it when I was there, but I hear they’re planting its saplings in a museum. It shall live on!

  6. […] “The NYC Chronicles.” Find the second installment and third installments here and here. Tags new york, nyc chronicles Categories life, new york, virginia LikeBe the first to like this […]

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