I usually like change. Change feels like progress, and progress feels like an adventure. But leaving New York was hard.
I won’t lie: It took me awhile to love New York in the first place—it’s smelly and crowded and expensive—but after awhile, you could see why the city has this…gravitational pull. No one on the subway looks like me and it opened my eyes to how vast and colorful America can be—not in the general sense, but in the sense that as soon as we stepped off the train, anything else we had in common might disappear. I loved that. And of course I loved the coffee shops and the theater and the long walks in city parks—all the other parts you already know about New York from the movies.
As we were contemplating this move, my adopted city was suffering. The streets looked apocalyptic. There was one day I stood in the middle of a usually busy street in Manhattan and couldn’t see a car for miles ahead or miles behind me. The planes that flew over our apartment every 6 minutes—gone. You could feel the city and its people aching, but still trying to do the most good by staying inside. By being there, by supporting local businesses, by nodding at my neighbors in solidarity, I was sharing the burden. So, like I said, leaving New York was hard.
It was especially hard to move during a pandemic. Our 15 ft Uhaul instantly became a 10 ft Uhaul because that was all that remained, and we ended up getting the very last hand truck in at least 3 boroughs. It was hot, and we were sweaty and wearing masks. And even though we moved back to a city I lived in for a decade, we were in a new neighborhood that had rapidly gentrified while we were gone and I felt disoriented.
On Monday, tired and still unpacking boxes, David suggested I go check the mail. I pulled out a handful of postcards that looked interesting, but that must surely be for the previous tenant. I turned over one and then another and then another to discover they all had my name on them.
Friends, I didn’t read them that night. I couldn’t. I was crying too hard, overwhelmed by the gesture.
They kept coming over the next few days, and finally, tonight, after my first full week back in DC, I sat down and read them all carefully. And then I cried some more. I love mail. I love postcards. I love the people who send them. And I love you all for taking the time to make me feel so welcome in my new/old home.