When I moved to New York City two years ago, I had no idea what was in store…
My first visit here, I stayed with dear friends in Brooklyn, and they showed me their favorite spots and gave me their extra key, so I could come and go as I pleased. That week I lived like a local with tourist tendencies, wandering around the city in wonder. Something happened to me one day as I was walking to catch the L Train — for the first time in my life I felt at home.
When I flew back to Oklahoma, I wept heaving, embarrassing sobs in the middle seat on the plane. I was unexpectedly in love with New York and I knew I would live there someday, I just wasn’t sure how I’d do it. It took some time to get up the nerve, but five years later, a few days before my 30th birthday, I said goodbye to the only home I’d known and took the plunge — just me and one giant suitcase.
One thing no one tells you about moving to a new place by yourself is how much you’ll cry — good tears and bad. For the first six months, it’s like a faucet. It was somewhat inevitable — I was building a brand new life for myself and fully grasping what that meant. I quickly learned that crying in public was a common thread between new friends and me — everyone had their own New York crying stories to share (in the bathroom at work, on the 7 train, walking through Prospect Park), which was comforting. In the midst of building new relationships and routines, the exhilarating cherry on top was the city, itself — Broadway shows, the best pizza slices for 99 cents, something to do at any given moment of any given day. I just knew I would run into Tom Hanks in Central Park at any point!
On my birthday, my friend Leslie took me out for lobster rolls and then drinks at a bar that later became one of our favorites. “Life hack!” she announced. “If your phone is about to die, just ask the bartender if they’ll charge it for you, behind the bar…most of the time they won’t say no!” I felt lucky to have her as my own little NYC Zagat Guide — anytime I had a date, I’d always ask her where to go. I was already starting to feel a little more steady.
I learned to spin the anguish of moving through a big city alone into deliciousness. Did you know reading on the subway is one of life’s #1 pleasures? And moving from a small city, sitting shoulder to shoulder with someone on my commute I may never interact with again, still blows my mind. Some of my standout memories from here are from the community I’ve built, and some are quintessentially New York…
Walking hand-in-hand with my friend Gabby to dinner, discussing life’s conundrums
Losing my keys at the club, and my phone in an Uber, all within a 24-hour window
Looking dramatically out my window and singing Space Cowboy after my first bad New York break up
My Airbnb host who washed her dishes in the bathtub à la Cosmo Kramer
Wearing a party dress with llama slippers when my next door neighbor threw a party
Sometimes I regret the time I wasted, not being here. Even though I believe everyone goes at their own pace, I find myself thinking “I should’ve moved 10 years ago!” On the other hand, I am grateful I didn’t get here any sooner than I did. Starting a new life in a new place now is way more thrilling to me than it would’ve been 10 years ago. I think I would’ve been way too scared, and possibly gone back. But by the time I came here at the age of 30 I had absolutely nothing to lose. Entering your thirties can feel like Adulthood 2.0 — if you’re lucky, you can hit the reset button and do things with gusto; once more with feeling.
The hardest part of the whole moving process was convincing myself that I was worth the move on my own — just me. But I feel compelled, more than anything, to know myself more — to stretch and grow and to see all that I can become. This two year crash course has shown me how quickly I can adapt, how big risks can pay off, and how sometimes things land and come to be, exactly the way they’re supposed to. I think I’ll stay for a while.
Have you taken a big risk that’s paid off? I’d love to hear!
(Top photo by Hans Kleinschmidt.)