I never wanted to live here.
For 22.5 years, growing up in a New Jersey suburb an hour outside of NYC, I hated coming to the city. Coming to the city meant hanging out with family members I didn’t know that well, walking around a crowded Times Square, and constantly feeling out of place and overwhelmed.
Then one day, only a little more than 2 years ago, I hopped on a bus to visit a friend and attend a conference at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. And as I sat on that bus, entering and exiting New York City, I was overcome with an emotional attachment to this crazy town (I wrote about it on this blog but I won’t link to it because I don’t want to look two years back).
When I first moved to the city a year and a half ago, I loved it. I did all the bucket list stuff with friends (more accurately with my two friends because I was kind of on my own for the first year, especially during the spring). It was magical, and I didn’t even have anyone to share the magic with. I would go to bed some nights and marvel at the fact that I was living in one of the greatest cities on earth.
Coming back to New York in the fall, I was as excited as I had ever been even though I was also probably the most friendless I had ever been (for anyone counting, I had only 1 friend that I hung out with on a semi-consistent basis at the time). Little did I know how much things would change. My love for the city grew as I began to explore it with new friends. I spent late nights at bars downtown and early mornings in rooms on the Upper East Side. Each day had its purpose. Whether it was Mondays filled with discovery, Thursday night trivia, or spontaneous Saturday opera trips, I was constantly indulging, experiencing, enjoying, and growing. And it’s been such a blast.
Before this weekend, I figured I’d spend at least the next 3-5 years of my life in this city. I love it here. I have a bunch of friends here (I went from being friendless to being pretty popular in these parts), I make enough money to live and I could easily get a real job if it came to that, and I sometimes legitimately feel like I can do anything. But after this weekend, I’m much less secure in my desire to spend the next few years of my life here.
My best friend* is moving upstate.
That probably doesn’t matter much. We’ll still be friends. But I know I’ll see her less. My brother’s planning to get engaged soon. My erstwhile best friend (or, more accurately, my best friend with whom I’m not currently interacting. To be honest, I don’t know that she’ll ever really be my “erstwhile best friend”. I don’t know that I could ever think of her as not my best friend. And I don’t think I would want to – she’s a really great person! But that probably doesn’t go both ways. And either way, that’s a post for another day) may be moving south. So many people I’ve met at Columbia will be graduating in May. And everything I thought I’d be able to deal with later seems much more important and dire now.
The thing about New York is that it’s such a transient city. I’ve written that before. But before I wrote that from the perspective of someone who was just passing through. Now, I write as someone who may get left behind.
Part of me feels like, if I stay in this city long enough, it will break my heart. Everyone will leave. All this is made even more poignant when I consider that one of my closest friends at the moment is someone I met at the going-away party of a college buddy. Already, there have been a surprising number of meaningful entrances and exits. And now the most meaningful one – that of my former college roommate and general roll dog – is really starting to set in. And New York is the backdrop for all this possible pain.
But, like I said, exits and entrances tend to coincide in interesting ways. While my friend’s moving upstate, my sister may be moving into town. And I’m sure there will be other people to walk in and out of my life while I’m here.
I love New York. I love being here. I love living here. I love my friends. I love staying out late at night and waking up late the next morning. I love the frenetic pace of midtown and the relative lethargy of uptown. I love Central Park. I love City Hall. I love the Freedom Tower. I love the Schomburg Center. I love Queens. I love the Met (Museum and Opera). I love Los Tacos No. 1. I love Empanada Mama (R.I.P.) I love the people I briefly make eye contact with on the streets. I love feeling like I’m a part of something and also completely unimportant to the functioning of the city. I love everything about it.
I love everything about it.
But, honestly, I don’t know how much less I would love it if I didn’t have the security of my best friend and family just a few train stops away. And I don’t know if I want to find out.
*I should come up with a different name for her. I don’t actually think of her as my best friend but that’s the most useful/relatable term so I use it. She fits more accurately between best friend and sister though, so maybe I’ll just call her my roll dog. For some reason I like that.