I moved to New York five years ago today. That wasn’t the plan at the time, but that’s when I drove up here. I didn’t know how long it would be for. Maybe a week or two and then I’d continue on to Pittsburgh. Maybe I’d be able to stay for a little while longer. I certainly didn’t see five years happening. It was 2012, after all, and the apocalypse was scheduled for December.
I had spent the past 12 or so years trying to get back to DC. It was my favorite location while growing up, which I had only learned after moving away. When I ended up back there, it wasn’t what I wanted anymore. So I was directionless. 2
All my life, I’d considered myself a city-person. Primarily growing up near DC and just assuming everything was like that. The hustle and bustle, the national museums and monuments, the center of attention, and everything else. Moving around constantly led to that also. I never identified myself by what age or what grade I was in, it was always by where I was living. I was in Georgia when we got Sugar. I had my First Communion in Alexandria. 9/11 happened when we were in Maryland. Five years here, five years there; that was always the longest time in any one place: five years.
New York was always too big, too crowded, too busy, too much. Somehow it held a semi-dangerous reputation in my mind, probably from movies or tv in the ’90s. When I was looking at colleges, New York was never close to landing on my list. It was mostly DC, Pittsburgh, Boston, with a few smaller cities thrown in for good measure, but not real consideration.
Sometime along the way, New York lost its dark, foreboding status in my mind. DC was the green light across the water that I couldn’t quite reach, but New York became the true beacon of hope that I could get to. And that’s all I had at the time: some distant sense of hope — a faint glimmer in the dark. And I was in a -DARK- place before making the journey. The drive north became my last ditch effort… just a Hail Mary throw towards three friends in the city. 3
Somehow it all worked out. Not instantly, not along any clear path. I walked miles per day around the city going to interviews I had lined up and stopping anywhere I could think of in-between. I camped out at the different library posts to get applications set-up and sent out.
Living in New York has crossed the entire spectrum of possibility. There’s been amazing days and horrible ones. Some of the worst days in my life where I barely lived through things I never thought would happen to me, all easily made up for by having a vast majority of the best days of my life. A friend and I joked that we were living in a sitcom and were trying to identify which episode by what we went through each day. Here’s the rooftop party episode. There’s the heartbreak episode. Here’s the random live musical episode imposed by the Powers That Be at the network.
Five years on, and moving here might’ve been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Everything I’ve been able to see and do. All the people I’ve met and new friends I’ve made and memories I’ve lived. I’m alive here here in New York and I wouldn’t change a thing I went through to get to this point. Here’s to five more.
This is a living document that I’ll edit and update and expand. I wanted (or needed) to start my blog with a milestone and this seems as good as any.↩
A large part of that was the devastated economy at the time and empty-handed job hunting. Another part was nostalgia that didn’t match up to the reality of returning there (You Can’t Go Home Again, as the saying goes); another part was that none of my friends were around.↩
And it felt like, at the time, the last three friends I had anywhere.↩