I’m convinced you can never love New York as much as you love it in the days leading up to when you leave it.
Three months ago, I had a pretty sweet setup. I lived in my favorite city in the world, in a beautiful, albeit 5th floor walkup apartment, surrounded by what I’m convinced is one of the best circles of people and no shortage of music, theme parties, wine nights, dinners, drinks, etc. etc. etc. I was in love with my city, with my friends, and most recently with an Australian guy who had absolutely no intention of moving back to Australia anytime soon. So I did what all 95% happy people do and booked a one-way flight to Sydney.
Moving out of the country is really cool because it’s kind of like getting to go to your own funeral. All of your friends throw you parties and give speeches and write you letters and talk about how much they love you. And then you even get a bunch of texts and phone calls from old friends and coworkers and exboyfriends telling you how brave and awesome and amazing and great you are!
I had a lot of expectations about what my life would be like when I moved to Australia – I would dive the Great Berrier Reef/eat avocado toast while sipping chai lattes on Bondi beach/become the token American on an Australian reality TV show. What I didn’t expect, was how devastated and heartbroken I would be to leave New York City and the people that have made it my home for the past four years.
Leaving New York was like graduating from college, except I was the only one who was leaving. If you haven’t lived in New York in your 20’s, then you should know NYC is just college for adults… you can walk or bike to all of your friends apartments in 15 minutes or less and you can go out seven nights a week without anyone raising an eyebrow… I was super excited about the plans I’d made, but I was leaving in the middle of the party! And I knew I was going to miss the A+ team I was so fortunate to have become best friends with.
BUT that didn’t matter so much at the time because after I booked the flight, my life turned into a whirlwind of countdowns and making the most of my last couple months in the wild city that I’d come to love so much. I put the important stuff first, for the first time since I’d moved to New York. Before work, I woke up early to go on jogs along the Hudson and go on breakfast dates with friends. During my lunch break, I read books in Central Park. After work, I left at 5pm on the dot to meet people I loved and that I wished I’d seen more of at coffee shops and restaurants and bars.
I slowed down and looked up for the first time in a long time and strolled through the streets of Greenwich Village, West Village, East Village, Little Italy, Chinatown and SoHo. I karaoke’d in Korea Town, watched people pour their hearts out telling stories on a stage in Harlem, danced on roller skates in a warehouse in Brooklyn, watched Louis C.K. drop in unannounced at the Comedy Cellar, and drank on every rooftop and ate every pizza, bagel, and pasta in Manhattan. I flew home to South Carolina to say bye to my family. Friends flew to New York to say bye to me.
And then one day I woke up and it was my last weekend in New York City and it hit me like a brick wall. I was somewhere at the intersection of excited and sad and anxious and holy-fuck-what-the-fuck-am-I-doing (sorry for the F-bombs Mom!). It finally set in that I was leaving the place where I had learned to grow up (just a little). I was leaving the place where I had fell in and out of love, succeeded and definitely failed, made and lost friends, danced and screamed and marched and formed a vague idea of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life – or at the very least who I didn’t want to be and how I didn’t want to live my life. I was leaving my favorite place in the world. I was leaving home.
So I cried and laughed and cried and laughed and cried some more. My friends threw me not one, not two, but three going away parties. I packed up my apartment and squeezed everyone extra hard and put myself on a plane and now I’m writing this 30,000 feet in the air on my way to a country I’ve never set foot in before.
Leaving New York was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There is no place in the world like it and I wouldn’t change a moment of the time I spent there. It is the most expensive, inconvenient, dirty, cold, crowded and magical slice of heaven on earth and I am beyond lucky and forever grateful to have had a piece of it.
SO… Here’s to New York City and cheers to all my favorite New Yorkers. Thankyouthankyouthankyou to everyone I met along the way for the good times, the not-so-good times and everything in between, from the bottom of my soul. I’ll be back as soon as I can.
P.S. Sorry I’ve been a shitty blogger – I could make up a lot of excuses but I’ve just been really busy looking at Instagram instead of working on things that I love, like taking photos and writing. Here’s some photos of my last sunset in NYC to tide you over until the endless/annoying array of blog posts I will soon be posting from my last few months in the US and then… down unda!