Beach Bum in the Big Apple Part 5: One year later
My parents and I landed in New York City on August 1, 2011, checked in a hotel in Manhattan, then took a cab up to East Harlem to get my new apartment keys. We took a trip to Target to buy things that would make my bedroom look like home, but the starch walls and modern light blue and grey furniture looked nothing like home.
When we spent time walking around Times Square during the rest of the week my parents stayed with me, I had a consistent feeling of delight and despair. See, I’ve dreamed of moving to NYC since I first visited in high school for a journalism class field trip. I fell in love with the high buildings, the bright lights of Times Square, and the rush felt when people and taxis and trains fly by all day and night. It was a dream to live in this city, but it was always easy for me to dream of NYC from the comfort of the bedroom I’ve slept in since middle school.
NYC isn’t some quaint, pansy city. She doesn’t give a shit about you or me or our insecurities. She doesn’t help guide anyone, she’s doing her own thing. She doesn’t have time for anyone else.
Once my parents left for the airport, leaving me in my new apartment all decorated to feel like home, it was weird, it still felt like a dream. I thought my parents would eventually swing over and take me back to Virginia Beach, to reality.
But the reality in VB was I was feeling like a big loser. The fire I had for journalism and that dream to pursue it in NYC dimmed every day that I slept in until 1 p.m. or later and woke up just to be sure I could watch Jerry Springer – that year I floated aimlessly ater graduating college.
But August 1, 2012, marked my one-year anniversary with my dear friend, NYC. Yes, I have been living in this city for one year! She can still be a little scary, and a bitch at times, but I’d say we’re on really good terms. I love it here, and this year has flown by and taught me a lot. It’s been great and exactly what I needed. NYC, my summer internship and grad school ignited that fire I had for journalism.
Living here also made me more appreciate home, and what home means. There’s this feeling I get when I’m riding the China Town bus back to VB. Once the bus gets on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and I see the water, I feel this burst of energy – I am home.
But when that bus is driving into New York City, as soon as I see the Manhattan skyline my stomach flips. I feel a similar burst of energy - I am home.
My first ever apartment, my first ever home away from home, will soon be packed up in plastic bags and boxes and moved down the hall. Me and three amazing friends I met in my building will be shacking up together.
On Aug. 1, Minty, one of my soon to be roomies, told me to come see her old apartment, her studio. Her studio was my second home, where I went to escape when one of my roomies was cooking fish, where I went to ask for assistance with Final Cut Pro at least once a week, and most importantly and most commonly, where I went to talk and vent with my best friend.
Her studio was stripped. Her mattress bare, her table and desk cleared, her drawers emptied. A few dishes were in her sink and a trash can without a bag sat in the corner. We kept saying “It’s so weird!” It was, though. We were looking at the room she spent her first year living in NYC in, and it was bare but filled with memories. That’s when I realized clearing out my room this weekend won’t just be a pain in my ass because of all the shoes, but it will also be a pain in my heart.
One year down. I battled the awkwardness of meeting new friends and trying to find a sense of belonging in a city unlike any other. I battled the difficulty of getting through days and weeks and months without seeing my parents, my brother, my dogs.
Everything was new and scary and awesome. Thankfully with school and my internship I’ve been able to really explore this city in one year, covering stories in pretty much all the boroughs. Thankfully with an iPhone and apps like HopStop I was able to navigate, too! And with friends from school living all over the city, and with a lot of them being from all over the city, they always knew of a fun bar or club or apartment to drink in.
NYC made me feel back on track. I feel a little more in control of my life. And thankfully, I feel even closer to my family and friends back in VB despite the distance. I love them all and miss them all so much, and I will always love and miss VB while I’m in NYC no matter what.
There’s this “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” feeling. But a year isn’t a long time, and I still have to keep pushing myself to make it here, to be able to stay here.
I love NYC. And I feel that even though a year has passed and it’s never going to be easy, it still and will always feel like the honeymoon phase. And, it feels like home.