Goodbye to All That
I have no meaningful or poignant or hateful essay to write on how I came to New York and it changed my life in some way, good or bad. I was born in New York City. I grew up in New York's suburbia. I went to college in New York. I got my first (and only for the time being) full-time, health-insurance-included job in New York. I work in New York now. New York was always the city. It was not around the corner but also not too far away. We would visit on school trips to museums, to go to work with my father, sometimes for doctors. In high school, being allowed to go into the city alone with friends was a milestone. I have spent most of my life in New York and its environs. New York did not change me so much as it is a part of who I have always been.
I love New York. The people. The pace. The public transportation. The ease of accessibility of pretty much anything you could possibly want (and lots of things you don't). I cannot imagine my life anywhere else because, indeed, my life has not ever been anywhere else (with the exception of a gap year spent in Israel and three summers in Washington).
And, now, I am leaving New York for the other, warmer coast to go back to school. I am excited for grad school and the research I will do there, excited for year-round flip-flop weather. And I am terrified. I have no idea how to live anywhere else, no idea how to live without all the friends and family I am leaving on the East Coast. Oh, I know I will be fine. I will buy a car and learn to park it. (I may or may not have called my father from the car in front of our house on the rare occasion that there was a parallel-parking need at home. He reminded me recently that he won't be able to come out and park for me when I am 3,000 miles away.) I will throw away my boots and down coat (which, in any case, could not come with me for lack of space). Perhaps I will even embrace a slower pace of life.
And maybe that's what terrifies me. I'm a New Yorker. I hate the cold, but I love complaining about the cold. (A friend has a running count on how many times I complain about the cold anytime we step outside in the winter.) I like the grit. I hate the tourists, but I love feeling superior to them when I cut them off (by foot, obviously) on a busy sidewalk. I take pride in all the iconic New York sites I have not been to because they are tourist traps, not places for real New Yorkers. Though I must admit that in my nostalgia-filled final weeks in this city, I have visited many of them (the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge). I wear mostly black.
I am convinced that New York City is the only true city, and I don't want to be convinced otherwise.
I've shipped about 400 pounds of stuff to Los Angeles already, and my bags are mostly packed. In three days, I will get on a plane to spend the next five years in what seems to me a foreign country. And I am scared that when I return (yes, I am confident that I will return in some capacity), I will have changed and the city will have changed and no one will even have noticed I was gone but I won't fit here anymore. Or there. Or anywhere.