The above photo is almost 4 years old (those headphones, my god), taken in my first “grown up” apartment in Fort Greene, after the first ever weekend I spent in Brooklyn. Man, here are where the clichés start pouring in, but I feel so different from the girl in that photograph… and yet right now I feel more attuned to her sense of adventure, her spirit, her energy and her optimism than I have in over a year.
I love New York City. I didn’t used to – growing up in Chicago, people compared the two cities unfairly, and I have always been vehemently and competitively supportive of my hometown. Regardless, I hopped on a plane to La Guardia the day I graduated college (never having even visited before), and New York has been, is, and always will be important to me in ways I can’t effectively verbalize. But goddamn if I don’t love Chicago in a soul-trembling, energizing, palpable kind of way. Maybe it’s as simple as needing a fresh start (admittedly, I do), but thoughts of my day-to-day in Chicago elevate my mood, make my body shake, get my heart racing.
There is this stigma unique to New York – leave any other city, and people congratulate you, inquire about future plans, feel generally excited for you. Leave New York City, and people cower in awkwardness – they’re quick to assure you that you can always come back, that you shouldn’t feel like a failure!, that they think about moving all the time too and TOTALLY GET IT, meanwhile pitying you for not have the chutzpah to really ~~make it~~ here.
New York is many things… but it is not my home. I never gave it that chance. To my detriment, I never really wanted to. I almost typed, “I feel very at peace” – but I don’t. I feel outrageously and uncontainably excited.
Anyway, there are 4 days left until I move and I haven’t started packing yet. I have been avoiding my “to do” list as if New York City is a place I can simply visit on the weekends. I’m waiting for that moment of clarity, of finality, and I hope it hits me over a whiskey ginger at my favorite neighborhood bar, or while in the company of the people here who I love – because it’s sure to be a doozy.
On Saturday I took a few minutes to walk around my neighborhood in fluffy boots, leggings and a down coat – hungover from the night before, slightly drunk from that afternoon, and about to shower for a party just hours away. I’m saying goodbye to this place the right way. Lucky for Chicago, my “hellos” are even rowdier than my “goodbyes.”