On March 31st, my 17 years in New York will come to an end. I am moving to Seattle. “It rains there!!!” is what I hear the most. My response is usually, “New York is freezing and dirty, so…”
I have been exploring cities for the last couple years because I knew that New York and me were coming to an end. It hasn’t been a bad relationship, just a meh relationship. Not great, not terrible. It neither helps nor harms. For me, at this point in my life, meh is completely and totally unacceptable. In fact, I’d say that “okay” has never really been okay with me.
(Waiting on the F train)
Now New York has spoken: “Zovig, you are done here”. Trust me, New York tells you when it’s done with you (Thanks Amy F, you were right). It’s been whispering to me since late 2014 that I am done. I sorta listened, but then I’d get a new boyfriend or a new job and a momentary jolt of excitement would surge, so I’d ride that wave and then the wave would die and I’d look around wondering how much I actually wanted to be here at all.
I spent nearly six weeks in Paris thinking that maybe the city of light was my place. No, it’s just like New York only prettier and in French. I tried Brussels, Belgium, Portland, considered the Bay Area again, Denver, thought about DC and even Philly. Seattle ended up next on my list and intuitively I knew that would be it. I got there and said: This is the place.
A friend asked: What’s Seattle got that New York doesn’t?
My answer: Nothing at all. In fact, I’m giving things up by leaving New York. It’s more about what I realize I don’t need so I can zero in on what I do. New York gives me everything that’s mine and teases me with everything that’s yours. I used to think I wanted all of it – mine, yours and theirs. I know now, at nearly 40, that I do not.
New York has made me feel both empowered and so weak, small and insignificant. I felt like I could achieve anything and then get knocked down to size (or down the subway steps). There are a zillion people around me but it is here that I understood the most profound loneliness. I’m surrounded by food, alcohol, exercise, lights, music and Sephora, but very quickly, I longed for quiet, so I moved to Brooklyn in ’06 to get away from it. Dating is like going through the bulk bins at Dylan’s Candy Bar: varieties abound, but like sugar, you get a high and then you crash. Like sugar, there’s a promise of feeling good if you eat it, but very quickly, you realize it makes you feel like shit because the marketing of the candy is way better than the candy itself. I have felt both abundant and at a deficit, sometimes in the same moment. I learned how to muscle my way through things and become my own personal advocate in the toughest of situations – but that’s exhausting sometimes (basically, all the time). I have met amazing people and made incredible friends, but many of them have left on their own post-New York journeys. I reinvented my career multiple times and even became a yoga teacher, but then I forgot to sleep. I got Graves’ and Hyperthyroidism even though I am living a very healthy lifestyle. I am compelled to hustle and get shit done (which I have and I do), but I don’t like that process anymore.
What has surfaced for me is the need to love that for which I hustle. The noise and stimuli of New York clouds me. I can’t figure out what’s important to me because I’m so used to taking cues from the city about what’s important to me. If I, who has a very strong sense of self can get swayed like this, what are others going through? I could sort it out, but the fight and friction through which I have to muddle isn’t ideal. I don’t want to force things or push. I’m learning subtlety and nuance, I’m learning about my own creativity and softness and the power these qualities have. I want to use them more but here in New York it’s impossible. We are forced into the race. It’s just what New York is and everyone who lives here must choose to be up for it the moment we walk out our doors.
I love New York. I will always wear my “I lived in New York for 17 years” as a badge of honor. “I am from Brooklyn” will be coming out of my mouth for some time. I am sad as hell to leave. I am also ready for something different. Not better, just different.
Am I nervous? Yeah a little. But one thing New York has given me is this: If I can make it here, there ain’t shit I can’t do anywhere.
[To be continued, for sure, because saying goodbye to NYC is my greatest heartbreak.]