I was about to email a friend whose name begins with “L-e” and my grandpa’s now-expired email address popped up within Gmail – an address I haven’t had the ability to use in over four years. Almost the length of time I’ve lived in New York.
Gramps wasn’t New York’s biggest fans; he once asked a girl friend of mine to show him her elbows because all New Yorkers had sharp elbows — for shoving people out of their way. Still, I think he would have enjoyed knowing I made it here. I made it big, arms and elbows flat – two wings for the journey. Most of the time, at least.
I won’t deny that I became harder while here. When you’re on own, scavenging for your future you get tough. Life in New York is about sales. Selling yourself as the perfect roommate, career candidate or person worth moving over for on a crowded subway.
And, of course, selling New York to yourself: justifying its daily hardships to the soft, naive underbelly of your childhood dreams.
One could say that living here is like an addiction at worst or a gamble, at best. Well, there was an evening a few weeks ago where I felt like I’d won. At life. I’d won, and I couldn’t be happier, and maybe I should have died right then because I was gliding on air. Okay, I was riding the F train in Brooklyn between Carroll Gardens and Smith/9th – same thing.
I was situated with a view of the purple-gold skyline at sunset after a successful day at work, coming home to my real-life fiancé, thinking. . . how generous this city can be and what riches I’ve been afforded and how inconsequential I was and how that was okay.
Let me tell you a secret: I was terrified to move here. The only reason I considered it was the losing streak I’d been having in Chicago for the half-year previous. I’d always scoffed at Ayn Rand’s logic of real life beginning when one has the least to lose, but in my case it was true. Gramps, who helped craft my very person, had passed away a few months earlier, I was working at dead-end publishing house and I’d been dumped on New Year’s eve. I was also hit by a car.
To say, I needed fixing would be kind. It wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t easy, but New York gave me the gift of myself – back. I used to be a wild dreamer, imagining what my adult life would look like, unable to sleep and unable to wait, wrestling with my covers. But, I’d gotten lost along the way and maybe I still am, but I’ve started to truly appreciate the journey,
No one said it was going to be easy. But they never said it would be this rewarding, either.
Ed. note: Alissa is not going to leave My First Apartment. She’ll continue to share her apartment living wisdom from Chicago after she gets settled in her new digs. Alissa, we’ll miss you in NYC. Safe travels with that big U-Haul!