As I sit in the Charlotte airport, waiting for my flight back to my city-sweet-city, I find myself recalling the year that’s passed. Of every year I’ve had, 2010 was my very best one.
When years come to a close, the natural thing for anyone to do is to think about what happened, what they can learn from it, and determine what they should work towards in the months to come. I could go through a long list of all of the amazing dreams of mine that came true this year, how I survived a very difficult breakup with Mr. Idea, or how I got myself in shape and started a blog that somehow has made it across the web. Even more easily, I could share the insight I’ve gained from the several ups and downs, the men of Manhattan I’ve started to date, and the growing pains that come with finally being 110 percent on your own.
But if I really think about what 2010 has meant to me, why this year is so paramount in comparsion to any year previous, it is because I finally settled in, drew up roots, signed papers, and secured a zip code in the place that I know was meant for me. This year was everything grand and difficult because it was the year of New York.
Now, being the best year yet doesn’t mean it was all smooth sailing, easy riding, and without frustration or worry (for it was far from any of those things) – but rather, it was the first year that instead of letting something or someone decide or steer my life – I defined myself. I stopped waiting for fate to take its course, for the stars to align in perfect order, for a man to come and rescue me from the “Curse of Singleness”, for everything to be symmetrical and ideal…and I just started living.
And without any doubts of being left (or being forced to leave), without worrying about being vulnerable or destroyed, without feeling the need to protect my heart – I fell in love with this city. With this place, that is now my home.
Being away from New York for a week longer than I anticipated made me realize, more than ever, how much it means to me and how when I’m gone, a piece of me feels like it is missing as well. Today and in times of war in our history, those in love were separated by oceans, worrying about their partner’s safety, and praying to just lay eyes on them again. The men fought in battles that risked their lives, the women held onto prayers and hopes while keeping the home (and workforce) in tact, and to keep their flame alive, they wrote letters ensuring their love and declaring their longing.
So New York, while I was in North Carolina, waiting for the storm to pass, and there you were fighting the blizzard that sneaked up on you, please know that my unyielding love for you was still strong, and sincerely, I counted the minutes until we would meet again. In thanksgiving for 2010 and all of the city-inspired blessings it gave me, let me write a letter to you, Mr. Big Apple, the first real love of my life.
Dearest New York City,
Our love story, like many, began many years ago. When I first saw your gleaming lights, heard your boisterous sounds in my pink jacket and awful haircut, I felt like I had found someone I would love. While it was the time of Disney Princesses, tennis and piano lessons, and I still wasn’t convinced boys didn’t have cooties – something about you, in all of your congestion and creativity, made me believe that maybe there was something more out there for me.
We were not serious when I left at first, but when I showed up on your doorstep the second time, for the interviews at magazines I had always dreamed of working for – I think we both knew there was something magical developing. You welcomed me back into your life, showed me just a few of the perks that would be at my disposal if I decided to stick by your side, and then with graciousness and kindness from the Publishing Gods, I was able to spend a glorious three months falling in love with you. Guarded by the security of my university’s loft, I sorted through beauty products at Cosmopolitan, pitched ideas to the many editors I admire, and felt my drive for writing grow. But through it all, the single thing that made even the worse days bearable, where I missed the simplicity of my Southern upbringing, was the look of you. I could grab my subway card, go through the front doors, and there you were, waiting to greet me with wide eyes and you renewed my spirits – no matter how low they were.
And then, with studies left to study, I had to leave you again. You were understanding and forgiving, and ensured me that before long I would be back. I promised you I would return to your glittering pavements and endless opportunities, no matter what it took, what bridge I had to cross, who I had to leave, or what price I had to pay. We both knew that destiny brought us together and that nothing could stand in our way. As I flew home that faithful August day, I let the tears stream down the cheek and said a little prayer that nothing would change in my heart or in your willingness to take me back between then and when I would return.
Sometimes, my dear, when the gods of time decide to be in your favor, prayers are answered as easily as they are pleaded. At college graduation, I wrote on my cap “New York, Here I Come”, and three months later – I did.
With three suitcases, savings I had resting in my bank account since I was 15, and all of the ambition in the world, I touched down on your streets and took off. You encouraged me to keep going when I thought I would never get off my friend’s couch and you led me around your beauty with hidden pennies of fortune and chances of success that I never imagined. You showed me new parts of yourself that I wasn’t aware of, and as I always seem to do, I fell in love with you even more.
Out of nowhere, the cards gave me a great hand and I moved into your place, well our place, on the Upper West Side. It is a starter apartment and maybe old and miniature - but I have no doubt you will do your best to give me everything I ever wanted. And my job, while not perfect and ideal, is extremely good to me and a wonderful place to begin my career. You believe in me, New York, and because of that faith, I believe in me, too. It is only up on the ladder from here, and I know you’ll be there with me through it all.
Thank you for forgiving me when I cursed your name and doubted your brilliance. Thank you for reminding me of how beautiful I am and how lucky I’ve been my entire life, just to know you. Thank you for warming me with incomparable inspiration – just by being you. Just by being the shimmering, unpredictable, faithful, and dependable city I’ve grown quite accustomed to. Thank you for taking me back when I left you and for knowing I’d always return, even when I was scared I never would. Thank you for allowing me to shine and stepping out of my way, even giving me the freedom to stomp all over you in the process. Thank you for an endless amount of dinners, shows, walks in the park, and peaceful evenings. Thank you for making me want to be a better person, a better writer, a better woman, and a better almost-New Yorker. Thank you for becoming as much a part of me as my high heel shoes, my skinny jeans, this blog, and my signature Mac lipstick.
There may be many things I’m unsure of, but one thing I know will never change, no matter what crazy journey this life takes me on, is that I love you, New York City. And I always, always will.
Can’t wait to see what’s ahead for us in 2011.