Four years ago *today I left my parents' home early in the morning to catch a flight to my new home in NYC. I would be sharing a bedroom in an apartment in Harlem, which I'd only seen in photos. It's was a fifth floor walk up. I didn't know who my roommates were, or really very many people in the city for that matter. (Three, to be exact.) I thought the closer the location to Times Square, the better. I had about $1000 to my name. My monthly rent was $625, and I still had a car payment since I hadn't been able to sell my car back home. I planned on getting an entry level job in sales. After the sun went down and it became increasingly more cold (this was February, after all) I texted my roommate while she was in class to ask her how to turn the heat on. Her response? "Sadly, it is on." I was preparing to go on an interview the next day for what I later found out was a job as a mystery shopper. It was extremely awkward, and I told the guy, mid-meeting, that this just wasn't for me and got up and left. I spent most evenings exploring the city with my roommate Chelsie, or hanging out with a guy I had a long time thing for, and had no clue how to play the game. I was 23 and basically clueless. I spent many lunches and dinners at Giovanni's (or, Jerry's, to me and Chels) because Jerry and Mario were extremely friendly, and I could get a big slice and soda for $3. Not to mention, they frequently threw in a free piece of carrot cake. Once I changed directions and started looking for a job being an assistant I took the first offer I got.
Three years ago today I was living in the financial district in a high rise building, sharing an amazing apartment with three roommates, and a bedroom with one. I was dating someone who, even though I didn't realize it quite yet, I was crazy in love with. I felt like I'd officially made it in the city. I loved my job. (Was so lucky that the first offer I'd received ended up being the perfect job.) I had an amazing boss. I felt comfortable getting around the city on the subways without having to consult a map. I loved my ward. Things were good.
Two years ago today is a bit of a blur. This time of my life was incredibly tough and I was facing challenges more difficult than I'd ever experienced (and it got worse before it got better.) I still had the same job, and same amazing boss, thankfully, because he was so good to me when I was such a mess. I was still living in the financial district, but in a shoebox apartment with two other roommates. I gave up the amazing apartment two blocks away so I could get into a place in which I'd have my own room. There were some pretty serious problems in my family life, and I was in pieces over my best friend, the person I thought I was going to marry. I never knew I was capable of feeling so much love and hate and hurt, all directed at one person. I contemplated at times quitting my job, leaving New York, and just making some sort of change. (The big hair cut didn't quite satisfy that need.) I felt depressed and empty and lost. If it wasn't for my good friends, and a loving Heavenly Father, I never would have made it.
A year ago today I'd moved back to the amazing apartment in the financial district. Still had three roommates, but I had my own room. I was paying double the rent of my first apartment, but I didn't care. It was worth it. After dragging on for almost another year, I was just beginning to get over the relationship that still occasionally feels like it defines my life as "before him" and "after him." From this point on, things really started looking up, for a while. Still at the same job, still had the amazing boss, still loving the ward and my life, but feeling a little restless and like I needed a change of scenery. I felt, more than ever, that I needed my own space and independence. I was on my way to getting my life back together after having my world rocked too many times the year before. I was feeling good.
Today, I'm no longer employed. I'm no longer in love. I'm no longer torn to shreds over that love. I'm no longer living in the financial district. I no longer have roommates. I'm once again job hunting in the brutal winter, but I'm much more seasoned this time around. I've got experience. I've got money in the bank. I've got snow boots. I've got a coat that keeps me warm when it dips below 30 degrees. I've got more confidence. I've lost the naivete I had as a new girl in the city. I know what a want, instead of wanting almost any job that paid the bills. I've nailed the coffin shut, as much as possible without finding new love, in regards to my former love. I've learned a few lessons in dating, and even though I sometimes make the same mistakes, I don't make them over and over and over for months and months and months. Despite all the pain, I've taken such amazing lessons and become a better person from my past relationship. I have my own tiny studio on the Upper West Side which I love, in a location that almost can't be beat. I'm more comfortable being alone than ever, and in fact, not only am okay with it, but enjoy it, and sometimes prefer it. All that being said, I am far from having it all together. I have a lot of the same problems, but time and experience has taught me ways to better cope and recover. I'm more okay being me than I ever have been. I have a lot of questions about some pretty important things in life, and am working on figuring them out. As someone who's officially in their late 20s, I couldn't agree more that your 20s are for traveling and making mistakes.
I still love New York, maybe more than ever. I'll never have that new, giddy happiness I had for the first few months I moved here. But it's a more developed and mature love. A deep love. My dear friend Jane once told me, "Happiness isn't being giddy. Happiness is feeling joy and being content." This is my home. I can't imagine leaving or living anywhere else. Despite my darkest times when I craved a change, I don't have the "love/hate" relationship with New York so many of my friends talk about. It is love/love.
Thank you, New York. I love you.
*This was posted after midnight, so it's not exactly "today." I moved to New York February 6, 2007.