i fell in love with a city first.
before there was anyone or anything else, for me, there was new york. in the way that most people who grow up in small towns that they feel too big for do, i dreamed of moving to that city. i let it shape all of my other plans, made the future i imagined for myself take place on fifth avenue or in central park. (brooklyn didn’t have it’s current name recognition yet.) and then i made that dream happen.
i saw new york city for the first time as a twelve year old, and i lived there for the first time as a college freshman, and i returned for some of the best years of my life thus far at age twenty-two. like most who made the pilgrimage, i came to new york seeking fame and fortune (you got a face for the pictures, kid!) i thought i was going to be an actress - i still do, sometimes - and then i thought i was going to be a museum curator, and then i thought i needed to figure it all out. but mostly i knew that i loved my life, that i was exploring and learning and meeting the kinds of people i wouldn’t have met elsewhere, and that i was growing myself into the person i wanted to be.
i think one of the most difficult parts of that kind of growing is learning to let your dreams change. it is alright, it is good, even, to give yourself the space to discover that what is important to you at twelve may not be what will matter to you at thirty. that you are ready to define yourself in new ways, in an entirely new place.
and it is hard, but good, to realize that the new york you planned on is not necessarily the new york you got. the new york of stage and screen, the new york of society pages and black and white photographs, the new york of fiction and poetry, the new york of songs about heartache and songs about joy. the magical new york. my new york was different. better, yes, in so many ways - richer, fuller, with the kinds of experiences and friendships you will treasure for the rest of your days - but also more limiting, with little daily disappointments that can start to sour the place over the long run. (a friday night is probably better in new york than any place in the world, but a monday morning is probably worse.) in the end, it was both incredibly easy and incredibly difficult to leave new york.
i will always, always, always love new york city. it was home to some of the best moments of my life and i know it has shaped me forever. but i am also ready for what comes next. and i cannot wait to see what happens.