“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” – Tom Wolfe
On Christmas Day, David and I packed up a U-Haul and moved to New York.
There was little public fanfare around the decision or the act, partially because timing, and partially because I felt a little numb.
I had lived in Washington, DC for almost a decade and my geography had in many ways shaped my identity. As I walked along familiar streets in our neighborhood and indulged in “last times” at favorite spots, I still couldn’t fully imagine extracting myself from this place.
Yet, like it had for many people, the year had taken its toll on me. The fraught political climate had made me tense and angry. I was emotionally bankrupt from working at a job I despised. My best friend was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.
Remember that scene in Neverending Story? Yeah, my year had been like that—dark as hell.
And so, we called it. We packed up our things, hugged our landlords/surrogate parents goodbye, and headed north.
Now, I find myself rediscovering what it means to be a local again.
We found an incredible apartment in Harlem; one entire side is made up of sunny windows that look down on a park. We marvel at the quantity of bodegas around us. We hunt for new coffeeshops. We sign up for library cards. We ponder how long it will take us to learn enough Spanish so that we can speak with our neighbors, or maybe not speak, but to at least listen, which seems like the more New Yorker thing to do anyway.
On New Years Eve, we stood on a frigid roof deck watching fireworks blossom around the Empire State Building some 5 miles away, and we fell a little in love.
I don’t ask the city to be a magical balm, but even in this season of intense cold, I feel a little bit of the numbness melting away. And for now, that will do.