Do you love the city, or do you love the familiarity of it?
This is about to be my fourth year spent living in Manhattan. I moved here at eighteen years old, just several months following high school graduation, to undergo an undergraduate level education. I had only previously visited the city just a handful of times; each prior trip accompanied by a family member or school chaperones.
I had never spent the night. I didn’t know how to navigate the public transportation system. All of my peers, including my roommates, were strangers. I had never single-handedly grocery shopped, did laundry, stood in line for the bank teller, sent a package, or scheduled doctor appointments at any point before orientation. I was a child stepping into the biggest adventure of her life – one that provided equal opportunity for personal growth and failure. At twenty-two, I think it’s fair to assess that I stepped up to the plate for both occasions.
The achievements and mistakes have defined who I am at this present moment. They began, literally, mere hours after I walked away from my parents to join my upper class mentor and are still unfolding as I type out these sentences. There have been experiences, witnessed alone or with friends, that still cause me to shake my head out of pure wonderment and disbelief. I now possess a vast jar of memories that can be filed under moments of danger, coincidence, luck, plain foolishness, or some varied combination. Many of these experiences had never been recounted to family members; and, to be honest, are best kept under wraps in the future for the sake of the emotional health of all parties. There are moments that I voluntarily participated in that I am not proud of. However, the lessons I have learned as a teenage New Yorker, whether difficult or otherwise, have been invaluable to my newly found perspectives on adulthood. If given the chance, I’d refuse the option to change the outcome on any of these memories.
My undergraduate career is almost at its end. I have just filed my senior audit and have been passed to walk at the May ceremony. For the first time in four years, I’m finding myself in almost the same predicament that I had been under at eighteen: I have no clear idea on where I’m going next.
I’ve had a lot of potentially scary moments under my belt, but nothing shakes me to my core like that of times of uncertainty. I can handle myself in all situations – I have the confidence to survive. However, I am a victim to the need for concrete planning. I can thrive under spontaneous decision making, that’s how I wound up in NYC in the first place, but until the possibility to make such a decision arises, I am going through daily motions as a nervous wreck.
The idea of living somewhere other than the city makes me uncomfortable.
There is a path that could allow me to stay, but that decision doesn’t yet fall into my hands. I’ve always said my love for New York is bittersweet, but I am territorial. My cons will never outweigh the pros of being a loyal local. I get to breathe a bit easier when I leave to visit family or take vacations, but by some point I am always itching to get back to the streets that I know better than anywhere else.
But is that true love for the streets? It feels like true love for the power and independence that comes with knowing where “home” is.
After four years, is it possible to ever associate fully with the idea of a new home?
Granting peace upon you this February night,