Monday, February 6, 2012

Five years

The Mall in Central Park. Both photos taken during my morning commute, fall '11 and winter '12.

Monday marked five years since I moved to New York. I think this is the first year I haven’t posted an anniversary post on the actual day (or just barely after midnight.) Besides being busy, I found myself not really knowing what to say. For a first. It’s not that I don’t have thoughts, but I guess I just didn’t feel….inspired? I guess you could say it’s the first time I’ve felt real writer’s block. I’d write a sentence and then just see the cursor blinking at me.

As I typically do, I found myself reflecting over the last year. It’s been an interesting year. But this isn’t about the last year, it’s about the last five. Five years. Five adult years. It makes me think about other blocks of life that covered five years. I spent five years in Rexburg learning about budgeting my time, money, and making decisions for myself without parental supervision. When I think back to that time, it seems like I was on my own, but still safe in a giant cradle. There was an honor code, church leaders who felt some sort of parental obligation over me, and a stigma that went along with a lifestyle that wasn’t that of a typical LDS BYU-Idaho student. I mostly fell in line, probably 75% by choice, and 25% by pressure.

Five years in New York is anything but similar to five years in Rexburg. I went from crop lined roads to Wall Street, going out with friends to the local DQ or cheap theater, to meeting colleagues and their associates at Tenjune and Koi. My college roommates and I used to feel like rebels when we stayed out past curfew and pulled pranks on guys in the 9 building. We had freedom, but ultimately, any rule breaking we did was still very innocent. We were still kids.

I remember one October night driving with my friends out to the Haunted Mill. We got lost along the dark farm roads and stopped at a bar to ask directions. Everyone stopped chalking their cues and set down their beers to take a look at the confused coeds and someone made a crack in his thick hick accent to come on back if we couldn’t find ‘er. We laughed and got on our merry way.

I didn’t have that same harmless feeling when I ended up on a shuttle bus to Queens one Thursday night around midnight about six months after moving here. I’d just moved to the financial district (was moving, actually, which was why I was trying to head back uptown to my old apartment in Harlem after moving my stuff downtown) and a lot of the subway stops were the last ones in Manhattan before heading to Brooklyn. Still being relatively new to the city, occasionally I’d accidentally hop on a downtown train when I meant to go uptown. This is a very inconvenient mistake when the next stop to fix your mistake requires going under water and ending up in another borough. Especially if it’s late at night or a weekend, when subway tunnel construction takes place. I made this mistake and when I got to the next stop found out Manhattan bound trains weren’t running, and I should go upstairs to take a shuttle bus back into the city. “Okay, kind of a pain, but not a huge deal.” After a while I happened to ask someone, “This is a Manhattan bound bus, right?” Wrong. We were headed to Queens. Queens! That is a huge deal.

I got off at the next stop which was in Utica. At the time, I had no idea what that meant (still don’t, really, but at least now I have the experience and knowledge of being a seasoned New Yorker and the confidence to get myself home.) I walked a few blocks in the dark thinking I’d find an open bodega, this was New York City after all! The city that never sleeps! Not when you’re in the burbs. I finally found a place open, a little concerned about the fact that I hadn’t seen a single cab yet.

I finally figured out a series of trains I needed to take to get back into the city and close to my new home. Even though a cab would have been pricey, it would have been the safest way to assure I made it home (literally, and figuratively.) I finally made it to my stop, but I wasn’t home yet. Anyone who’s ventured into the Financial District knows it’s not the straight forward grid upper Manhattan is. This was before the days of smart phones (seems almost hard to remember) and I had no clue how to get home. Luckily, I finally was able to figure it out, and got home somewhere around 2am, I think. What a nightmare.

This was the first time I realized I really was independent. Calling Mom and Dad was not an option. There was truly nothing they could do to help me out. They were 3000 miles away, and my pathetic knowledge of the city was a lot better than theirs. If I absolutely had to call someone for help, I really don’t know who I would have called. Luckily, the next day I was telling my boss the story and he told me if that ever happened again to call the company car service. What a relief knowing I had that option, should I ever be in a situation like that again. (For the record, I haven’t.) That was just the first time of many he’s baled me out, or been prepared to help me out of a sticky situation. I’ll never forget it, just like the time I went to Brazil with two guys I’d never met (long story,) and he told me if anything were to happen, to call him and he’d be on a plane to come get me. It sounds crazy, but the thing is, I know he meant it. I haven’t ever had a boyfriend who I felt would truly be there to bale me out should I find myself in a position needing help, but I’m very grateful to know I not only have a dad who I have that confidence in, but also another man, who just happened to be my boss, and more like family.

I wonder what my life would be like had I never moved here? I think about the relationships I’ve made, and I could cry imagining my life without these people. I think of my colleagues at my Wall Street job. Such characters. I have stories for days about that place. I think about my girlfriends. My sweet, sweet girlfriends who took a long time to make, but were worth the wait. Never in my life have I had to make an effort to find best friends, it always sort of just happened. After I’d lived here for about a year and a half I really missed having best friends. Of course I still regularly talked to my best girlfriends from college and from home, but no one local. I had friends, sure, but I didn’t have my people. I started praying for real friends, and I finally found them. Brittany and Logan got married in December and all our friends were there. We were all dancing our hearts out and for a moment I stopped and looked around. All my friends were dancing like complete fools and having the best time. My eyes welled up as I wondered how I got so lucky.

In addition to people, New York has brought me so much more. It developed my confidence. It gave me courage. It gave me not only an appreciation, but a love for seasons. It brought me the real desire to travel. I learned to not only take an interest in baseball, but to acquire a complete and deep love for the game. I’ve learned the meaning of schlep. I understand that sometimes when you’re in the middle of a storm you just have to put your head down and keep going. I have memories of being out in blizzards without a cab in sight and knowing I have to suck it up and put one foot in front of the other and eventually I’d make it home, and I always do. I’ve learned this is true for not just literal storms.

I’m so grateful for the decision I made to move here, and for the people who encouraged me to do so. I’m thankful for the constant guiding hand of the Lord in my life and for bringing me to this wonderful place that will always hold such a huge part of my heart. I’m eternally grateful for the people He’s brought into my life and the experiences I’ve had to learn and grow.

"I was in love with New York. I do not mean 'love' in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again."
Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem


Elise said...

New York has been good to you. :)

nerak said...

I remember you moving to NYC -- how has it been five YEARS since then? So glad I got to know you there!

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chelse said...

What an awesome post! First off, you should be a writer because your stories suck people in! Next, it's crazy to see the difference between Rexburg and real life. I feel like I'm still in fake little Rexburg land here in Ogden and listening to your stories [even the scary ones where you get lost] sound so great. You live life and you do it so well! I think it's amazing how you do whatever it is you want to do! You don't let things or life get in your way. I'm so happy you have lived such a happy life in NY, but now lets both move back to CA and suntan and skinny dip!

Michelle said...

This post is so beautiful! You are so beautiful. You are an amazing woman, one whom I admire in so many ways. Love you so much and miss you too.

GirlVirgo72 said...

I haven't known you very long but I consider myself fortunate to know you. That was a fantastic, inspirational post and I am so happy you and NYC found each other - it sounds like grand love affair :)

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