Part Two: “Two words. Nine letters.”
C and I were enjoying our final sips of $7 pinot noir as the bartender brought over our check and I nervously bounced my foot, uneasy about leaving the escape of a perfect happy hour. It was early February, the weather had just changed from a mild winter into that deep chill that settles in your bones, the kind that makes you want to stay inside and hide from so many things. I was hiding, at that point, from a conversation that I’d been dreading having for nearly two months, because when the wine ran out I had to go to Queens and start talking. C gave me a perfect hug when we parted, and promised me everything was going to be okay, the thing that I needed to hear even if I didn’t believe it. I’m an eternal optimist, for sure, but even I was having trouble picturing an okay conclusion to a conversation where I had to tell the person that I didn’t plan for and was falling in love with “oh by the way, you might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’m planning to move across the country in the semi-near future.”
After I’d made the decision to leave the city, everything felt so clear. I was watching the life that I thought I wanted evolve around me, my focus shifting from work hard/play hard to following my heart. I felt this tangible pull to the decided new destination every time I walked around the city and saw that perfect NYC sunset, and I felt it when I would stand on a subway platform in tears, exhausted from a long day and still no sign of my train, 20 minutes later. I had graduation goggles mixed with impatience mixed with nostalgia mixed with love, but from August till December, much as my feelings surrounding the decision wavered from one end of the spectrum to another, my decision to leave never once wavered or changed. I knew that it was time to change my life. I knew from the bottom of my heart that the life I had built in the previous five years in the city was not a life I wanted to continue living. And so in the spirit of taking chances and being brave, towards the end of what I wanted to be my final full year in NYC, I went to a wedding in Jersey all by myself, not knowing a soul aside from the bride, and then all of a sudden my entire life changed.
I spent January and half of February waiting: waiting for Whole30 to be over, waiting for YTT to start, and most importantly, waiting for A to leave me, because how can someone handle a girl they barely know who stops drinking for a month right as you started dating, then disappears into a yoga studio for the next six weekends and oh by the way SHE’S PLANNING TO LEAVE THIS CITY. After all, that’s what I knew about dating from my limited experience, how to be left behind and forgotten. It will always be easier to prepare for the worst, so I convinced myself in all this waiting that it was silly to get invested, because eventually I’d find his breaking point, and at least then I could say I would never be the girl to change her plans because of a boy.
Once it hit me that he wasn’t going to leave me, I took stock of my entire life and tried to remind myself why I was so dead set on leaving everything. Not only did I have this person that was making me question everything, but my entire life was changing in ways I never saw coming: I had a new sister-in-law, and I had two baby nephews that are already growing up too quickly. I had a whole new tribe of women from YTT that were the missing pieces from the gap left by M&N as they moved across the world, and how would I find all of the best happy hours and workout spots without my C? Suddenly I realized the change I’d been craving like cool water on a New York summer day was already happening all around me, and the parts of my life I was ready to give up were already gone, whether by my own doing or by the slow creep of time and growing apart. In a moment that paralleled the moment I decided to leave back in August, I took a look at A one night as we were falling asleep, the tiny smile on his face as he stroked my hair and told me to sleep well, and in an instant I realized how happy I was. The next morning I took a look at myself in the mirror after realizing all of this and said out loud: Why the fuck am I leaving this all behind?
So this year, I’m still saying goodbye to a lot. Goodbye to the New York I came here to be a part of. Goodbye to that life, goodbye to who I thought I wanted to be. Goodbye to the LB fraught with insecurities and chasing happiness without stopping for a minute to let happiness find her. Goodbye to looking at life as something you can force.
And hello to love. Hello to making plans and making a huge deal about the plans; and hello to changing all of those because sometimes following surprises can be the biggest adventure of all. Hello to a new life that’s exactly what I was hoping to find when I made the big decision in the first place. And the biggest hello to my city, my New York. Throughout this entire process of staying and leaving and changes and non-changes, the one thing that’s never wavered is my undying love for this concrete jungle I call home. It’s an entirely new life in New York that I’m starting to build here, picking and choosing pieces I want to keep from the many years I’ve lived and loved here so far, and reveling in the blank spaces of new memories to come.