Dear NYC, it has been a glorious seven years with you. Until I met you, I never knew anyone could love a place as much I love you.
I moved here when I was 24 years old and married, ready to intern at a startup that hadn’t even yet launched. I had no idea what you had in store for me and god, you really tore me a new one. You are like that tough parent that pushes you to the point where you think they are a monster but then you wake up the next day as a better version of yourself.
I hated you. I didn’t know how to cope well with you nor your people - the people that kept their calendars so busy so they had something to do and the people that felt like they needed to know someone everywhere and had to be in the inner circle. I hated them and I dreaded becoming just like them.
I had trouble making sense of your taxi drivers who didn’t understand an exact address when I gave them one, your bagel shop guy who thought I was taking my sweet time to order or your baristas who didn’t understand why I wanted to know about their day. You were always too much.
You challenged me. You challenged my soul. Within my first three years here, I divorced a man that meant the world to me and I didn’t know the answer to why I was doing that, only that something didn’t feel quite right. It was my gut instinct that something was amiss. One day, the start-up that was my identity in NYC shut down and then my following two jobs laid me off and I had no idea how the hell I was going to pay my NYC rent. I had even stopped talking to some of my best friends. Everything familiar in my life was gone and every safe decision I had made was gone with it to the extent that I became unrecognizable to myself. That shit was scary.
I was living with people that I had met on Craigslist and I was hooking up with randoms. I was consulting at a billion and two companies as I was trying to find what I was good at. And my dear friend, even your people weren’t easy on me during that time. I didn’t have answers to any of the questions that people asked me during happy hour. “Oh, what do you want to do”, “Oh, do you think you’ll ever speak to him again.”, “Oh, now what?”. I had no answers. I just wanted to get drunk and do something that would give me a fun story to tell during my next happy hour.
I didn’t know the answers to anything except, “This is my story and this is the only city in the world that is going to ‘fix me.’ “ And then you worked your magic and suddenly everything changed.
I found myself meeting people that would take me in. Those roommates from Craigslist became family. Those people that I had met randomly through work called and said “I think we would become besties. Let’s go for coffee”. I once went to the movies alone and there was a girl sitting next to me who was also there alone. We ended up chatting and today, she is one of my best friends. Like, bridesmaid material best friend. Some of those random hookups turned into some of my closest friends. One day, one of the guys called me, who I hadn’t seen in a year and said, “Hey, you are really good to chat with. I’m going through a few things. Do you think we can get coffee and walk around Bryant Park?” You brought people into my life that held my hand and looked at me for the person I was and who I was going to become despite the fact that I was discovering myself in fucked up ways.
Every OkCupid and Tinder date has taught me to never be attracted to someone who settles. In fact, you’ve actually taken the word “settle” out of my vocabulary and even my life. Learning that it’s Prince and Broadway and not 594 Broadway has taught me how to navigate the world alone without fear. Every stoop has taught me about all those untold stories and tears and how to get up and bravely face the world every morning. You taught me how to not only understand but accept and love anything that is different. I’ve grown from being an intern to the first employee of a startup, to getting fired, laid off and then even being a finalist for Forbes “30 under 30” to being written about. I’ll be grateful to you for this because you taught me how to pick up again.
You know how they say that New Yorkers aren’t nice? I would agree but honestly, they are the kindest bunch I’ve ever met. New Yorkers give. They give to every cause. They give to every believer. They give hope to every dreamer and a dream to every traveler. You taught me the difference between niceness and kindness.
NYC, you’ve become home. And all of those people I hated disappeared. The New Yorkers I know today, stick to their coffee shop, their 5 restaurants, their bars and their laundry guy. You’ve become the most familiar thing in my life over the last 7 years. After losing myself completely, I kept searching for people that reminded me of me until recently. I went on a few back to back trips and was away for 4 weeks but coming back was coming home. It was not simply coming to my bed but in fact coming home. I came back to my coffee shop, to the restaurant where the staff recognizes me and to the laundry guy who hates me for calling him right before they are about to close. NYC, you have given me a home that I have always yearned for during these past few years.
Hey NYC, I love you. I think there is a quote by Ayn Rand which goes something like “To say I love you, one must first be able to say the ‘I”. And I haven’t said this in years but I love you. I love you so dearly NYC. I love you for everything you’ve turned me into, for every time you picked me up but more importantly, for taking me in. Today, every sign that says “I love you NY” or “Miss You NY” makes sense. I get it. I feel it.
Thank you for helping me grow up. Thank you for being my home.
"Quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean 'love' in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.” — Joan Didion