I spent yesterday, September 11, celebrating New York City by myself. Brunch in Chelsea, (vegan) cupcakes on the lower east side, exploring my friend’s incredibly tiny $1,350 per month Chinatown apartment, and visiting Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue to get a bracelet repaired and a necklace from an ex cleaned that I planned to put on eBay (benefit #1 of breakup). It was a very New York day.
I’m starting to feel a bit maudlin and emotional about leaving New York. Walking around Manhattan yesterday reminded me of the reasons I wanted to move here…the excitement, the diversity, the curious little places that aren’t on the maps. I decided I was going to move here at eight years old, and visited for the first time barely two weeks before September 11, 2001. Now here I am ten years later, preparing to leave the city I’d dreamed about for so many years.
I have accomplished so many of the things I set out to do here. I never thought in a million years that I’d want to leave. But this city wears on you. People say “it’s a difficult city to live in.” It’s not, really. If you’re a person who can adjust to your surroundings, it isn’t all that tough. New York is for resourceful people (and rich kids, but they don’t count). I’m proud to count myself among those. I suppose, more than anything, you have to be a certain kind of person to survive living here.
Among my New York City memories, I remember September 11, 2001 so clearly. I’d just returned from my very first visit to the east coast and had just started my senior year of high school. My parents and I had gone to New York City and to Washington, D.C., as well as Roanoke, Virginia on a college tour. The whole area was magical to me. I couldn’t wait to get the eff out of Alaska. On the morning of 9/11, I was doing my hair and listening to the radio as usual. In Alaska it was around 5:30 or 6:00am, four hours behind the east coast. The DJs, who joked about absolutely everything up to this point, mentioned that a plane had flown into the Pentagon. In Alaska, you hear about plane crashes a lot because there are so many small bush planes flying around. I figured it was something like that. But when they said a plane hit a WTC tower in New York, I ran to my tiny TV. There I stood, dumbfounded, as I listened to the NBC newscasters cry in terror as the second plane hit the second tower. My God, seeing that live, after having just taken my very first trip to my dream city was unimaginable.
I didn’t go to school until third period that day–US Government. It took me a while to comprehend the whole thing. How the hell did those towers fall just from being hit by airplanes? I remember running into my parents’ bedroom, shouting about what I’d just seen. They thought I was joking at first. I remember talking to my grandma that day on the phone and her yelling that I was NOT allowed to go to college in New York City. I remember sitting in a park after school doing homework with my friend Renae and the skies were just completely empty. She lived around the flight path, too. But the air was silent. That was eerie.
So, here I am. Ten years later. 19 years after deciding I would move here. Over 9 years on the east coast. And 19 days from leaving New York. It’s so weird. I still so much feel like that dewy-eyed 21-year-old who moved here right after graduating college. Now I’m that dewy-eyed 27-year-old who discovered she’d stopped growing here and needs to move out.
But then there are all the things that I won’t miss about New York — the frustration of having to lug bags and boxes around like a hobo, the irritating moments when there’s not a free cab in sight, the constant sweating from the sweltering subway stations all year ’round, the absent building super, the allergies, the inability to walk down the street without being verbally accosted by some disgusting man, the constant shouted reminders that I’m a WHITE GIRL, never being able to go out dressed up without being stared at like a piece of meat, the inability to pick up packages at the post office on weekdays, a caving-in bathroom ceiling because my upstairs neighbor has a shower leak and takes about four showers a day and my building has yet to fix it! ….
And then there are the things I’ll miss terribly — my donation-based yoga studio, my friends, the vegan restaurants and bakeries, the human diversity, 24/7 public transportation for the intoxicated, ever-present taxi cabs and car services, MY JOB, Southwest Porch in Bryant Park, grocery delivery, Rohm Thai on E. 20th St., Madison Square Park, the New York Rangers, my therapist, plane tickets to anywhere at anytime, the $20 bus to D.C., the bike lanes, the NYPL on 42nd and 5th …
I’m really starting to feel sentimental as my time in New York winds down. But I know I’m making the right decision. I’ll be on the path to better financial security, I’ll be in a job that allows me to make a greater impact on my community, I’ll be more or less allergy-free, I’ll be able to take flying lessons, I’ll be more active by being outdoors, I’ll be able to do more hands-on research for my next novel, and I’ll have the opportunity to explore love with a certain someone… Yes, love.
I guess I could keep rambling on and on, but I’m sure in the next 19 days, there will be a lot to talk about.