I used to live in New York.
That feels strange to say and even stranger to feel. Four years have swiftly passed, and amidst much change and much movement, I'm now a Philadelphia, PA resident. As those of you who live in the city that never sleeps know, life in New York is often as high as it is low. I'm glad I got to spend my last few days in the Big Apple doing things that reminded me of the highs and made me reflect on how far I've come from my lowest of lows.
One of the most heart-warming activities I had the pleasure of doing during my last full week in the city was what I thought would be a simple farewell dinner with one of my sorors (oo-oop), Louisa. When I met her downtown, she informed me that instead of heading straight to dinner, she'd be taking me to do one last super corny, super New York activity to commemorate my big move: a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
I've knocked off more than a few items on your average "Things to Do in New York" list, but, walking the Brooklyn Bridge was one of the few remaining. Fortunately, I was instructed to wear comfortable shoes in advance, so I was ready.
The sunset views on the bridge were, of course, amazing, as was the next activity. In true sisterly fashion, Louisa had prepared an introspective card assessment she learned of at a women's retreat. While this may sound like a tarot card spread, there were a) more than three cards and b) various adjectives printed on the cards instead of thought-provoking pictures. I was instructed to pick about 3-5 adjective cards that I think fit into the following categories: the woman I am today, the traits I hope to gain during this next chapter (business school), and the woman other people believe me to be. I might be missing a few categories, but, you get the gist.
It was really heart-warming to sit on a bench and talk through why I chose the cards I chose and what they meant to me. But, what was even more heart-warming was the last segment of the activity. Louisa also chose a few cards, cards that describe the things she sees in me that I don't see - or at least didn't pick - for myself.
Since I chose to forego having a going away celebration, I was really touched by the fact that someone would go out of their way to mark this milestone for me and to speak things for my life that I don't think to speak myself.
Other than the sentimental bridge walk, the card activity, and the mussels and fries from Bar Tabac that followed, I got into a few other primarily solo activities throughout the rest of the week. The first: a Broadway play.
As a pre-cursor, my last physical day of work was May 31st, so I had the privilege and time (both things I do not take for granted) to accept two matinee Broadway show tickets on a Wednesday. I'm a huge proponent of reading newsletters, because, free things. As much as the notifications sometimes annoy me, I'm also a huge advocate of joining groups and/or GroupMes that offer the same. There happens to be a WhatsApp group for members of my apartment building who choose to opt in and surprisingly, that group is chock full of free things (furniture and home goods and apparently comp "BEETLEJUICE" tickets) and things for sale (more furniture and home goods). So, over the course of the week I landed a free couch and two free tickets to see "BEETLEJUICE" - and the best part was, I didn't have to leave my building to retrieve either*.
*Just to balance out the seemingly excessive fortune here, I will note that I'll be paying to have the couch professionally cleaned and I didn't have anyone to help me move the couch, so I may or may not have broken one of the legs off in the process of dragging it down the hallway by myself. But, overall, you know - blessed.
For anyone interested in seeing "BEETLEJUICE" on Broadway, I'd highly recommend. This was my third Broadway show and I was still astonished by the seamless set design transitions, the singing, and the character development present throughout the show. The show isn't exactly PG-13 ("light-hearted" political, drug, and sexual references sprinkled throughout), but, it's a great laugh for the big kids (adults) among us, and even moreso for folks like me that grew up watching the original film.
I'd say those were the two most New York-specific activities I enjoyed, but, certainly not the most meaningful. I cut off all my hair and officially became a blonde. I had the chance to do a boozy brunch at Hotel Chantelle with two of my closest friends on the planet (who I'll miss with everything in me even though I'm fake and often refuse to catch a flight to Brooklyn to visit them). I ate out...a lot. Alone, per usual, at restaurants like Delicatessen. I spent a Monday afternoon getting my nails done at Chillhouse for the first time. Even though we celebrate inclusion and diversity year-round in this camp, I chose to go with a design specifically created to kick off Pride Month. My nail technician, Marilyn (IG: @nailitdontfailit), did an amazing job both making me laugh and putting her own spin on the original design (more pastel, less harsh white). I took what may be my last bubble bath for quite some time, as my Philly living space does not have a bath tub. I tried (and failed) to sell most of my furniture and artwork so I can start anew. I waited for lunch with my work bestie inside the famous New York Public Library, where I got to take in the "Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50" exhibit. And I generally prepared myself as much I could mentally to completely change my life.
Without going into too much detail, I can say that transitions are often pretty hard for me. This one has had its moments - of welling up on the sidewalk at the thought of leaving before I feel like I've accomplished everything I set out to, of friends I'll see much less often - but, it's been one of the most positive transitions I've had. As seldom as I found myself physically in New York during my four years here, I can say I broke myself in this city. The loneliness many of us feel in a place that most people assume is filled with so much life and so much activity and so many people is actually one of the most crippling forms of loneliness I've ever known. But the city itself didn't break me; the intense unraveling I've gone through over the past few years and the subsequent gluing myself back together stems from so much more internal than external. Despite all of these things, I know now that this Maryland transplant who found beauty in so, so much solitude and who got picked up and set back on her path more times than she can count is now poised to handle life a little differently. I wouldn't call myself optimistic just yet (that would be quite a feat for me), but I can say I'm present. And I'm looking forward to moving, and to new restaurants, and a space all my own that I'll hopefully be a lot healthier and a lot happier in than I was during my time in Herald Square.
In the wise words of a New York icon known for her candor as an actress and her penchant for hats:
"The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future."
- Audrey Hepburn
I hope that no matter where this phase of life finds you today, that you'll try to take change in a little bit differently - with a little more grace and a lot more self-love. I know I'm trying to.
To New York: I love you, in a way much different way than I've ever loved a city but it's time to go. I'll miss you and I'll never forget the lessons you taught me and the growth you brought me.
Talk to me about transitions, the good ones and the bad ones you've experienced, over on Instagram.