April 22, 2014
On Leaving NYC
(photo by Ty French—so many great photos!)
Even though I left New York six years ago when I graduated from college, I still get the question “Do you miss it?” almost always when I tell someone that I lived there. I think it seems natural that I would; New York is so busy, so beautiful, so romantic—especially if you’ve never lived there:) And while there are some big things that I miss, funnily enough…
it really made me appreciate where I’m from. I loved living there and I love visiting, but I don’t miss living there. When I moved to New York, I craved something different and new, something completely unlike high school and everything I had known, which is exactly what I got. It was the perfect time for me to go there and I loved my freshman year, my wonderful roommates and the exciting buzz of the city. Then at the beginning of my sophomore year I got to study abroad in Florence, which was one of the most magical times in my life, and when I came back my feelings for New York had changed. Seeing Italy and Prague made me realize what a big world it is; when you’re in New York, it’s kind of easy to think of it as the only amazing city in the world, which may sound odd but if you’ve lived there I bet you can relate! Seeing more of the world made me realize that the New York lifestyle wasn’t really for me and while it is a wonderful city, it’s okay to want something different too.
I stuck it out though for all four years of NYU, and I’m glad that I did, despite a near transfer to Reed in Portland my sophomore year when I was living in the middle of Union Square with some roommates I didn’t get along with:) I stayed through bed bugs, anxiety attacks, charming springs and bitterly cold winters. Sometimes it seems crazy to me that I lived a whole other life there full of people and places I never see anymore.
After graduating, I moved back home to Austin, thinking it would be temporary before taking off to another city or on another adventure. But to my surprise, I stayed. Not long after moving back I met Adam (almost five years ago!) and began this blog, slowly started to find my own career path and make new friends. I knew when I moved back that making Austin a new place for myself, with new friends, new hangouts, new routines, would be important for transitioning into an adult life here, and it really has been. The city has changed so much since I lived here as a kid, but I’m thankful for it actually. As much as I do miss the Austin of my youth, I don’t know if I would be as happy here if it were still the sleepy little hippie town that it once was. I need a little energy, a little spark—maybe New York gave that to me.
Another major part of why I love it here now has been the support that I’ve had since I moved back. Being close to my family has been wonderful and I can’t imagine living far away from them anymore. I feel the same way about my close friends here, who I feel deeply connected to and can’t imagine day to day life without. Something about being surrounded by loved ones makes it easier to dream big and take risk, knowing that you have those who will catch you if you fall. I never felt like I had that in New York, although I had some best friends there, but I think we were all in the “everyman for himself” mind frame, out of necessity. We were really just trying to get by, and that left little time for connection or community past the occasional dinner or night out.
I jokingly tell people that I hold nothing against anyone that they did before the age of 25, which is basically true. I look back at the person I was even a few years ago and I’m amazed at how much I feel like I’ve grown up since then. Part of my feelings towards New York could be based on just that—that I was a kid when I lived there and had no idea what was going on. But I also think that when you’re where you are meant to be, you’re getting what you need from that place, whatever that is. Motivation, comfort, inspiration, support, competition…we’re all driven by different things at different times in our lives, and I think it’s important that you’re getting that from your city, whichever city that is.
I sometimes feel like when I talk about New York it sounds negative, and I hope it doesn’t come off that way because I can’t stand city-hating (I feel like the Austin backlash is in full swing these days!) and because I really do love that city. But I wanted to write this simply to express that there isn’t any such thing as the perfect city, although I think many people try and paint New York that way. But I do think there’s a perfect city for you. Or two or three! It’s a big world out there and there are so many beautiful places to see.
The other night I had a dream that I was back in New York, magically, with a few hours to walk around by myself in the West Village. It was a beautiful crisp spring day and there were stores to stop into, fancy candles to buy, spontaneous street musical acts to marvel at. I looked down at my feet and I wasn’t touching the ground, I was just sort of hovering over it, taking steps on the air a few inches off the sidewalk. What a treat it was, for a night, to float through one of the greatest cities in the world.