Yesterday morning, as I rolled (or dragged) my red suitcase up and down several flights of stairs on my way to the airport – I took a mini-trip back in time.
Almost a year ago now, I lugged this same suitcase (along with two additional ones) from North Carolina all the way to a friend’s couch in Brooklyn. I distinctively remember stepping out of the cab on my friend’s block and the March air hitting my face as if it was saying: “What the hell are you doing? Don’t you know you don’t have a job? Or a place to live for very long? Are you out of your mind?”
Maybe I was crazy (perhaps I still am) – but somehow, I found myself moving those same three suitcases into an apartment uptown and starting my first day at my job, three weeks later, on April 5. When I think of my journey to New York, I’m often dumbfounded by how, for whatever reason, by whatever twist of good fortune and faith, all that I wanted…happened.
The decision to move to the city wasn’t ever really a choice in the first place. I made my mind up a long time ago that I would live in New York (not a borough, but Manhattan), I would be a writer (magazine first, then an author), I would run in Central Park (except in the winter), and I would find the love of my life.
And I believe I have. If anything challenges me, brings me unsurpassed joy, makes me feel adored and lucky – it is the boisterous and beautiful island of Manhattan.
Leaving yesterday, I felt a sense of dread. Of guilt. Of sadness. Because here I was, leaving my love at such a special time of year. I could hear the city saying, “But Lindsay, don’t you still love me? Don’t you want to spend your Christmas here? Look at how much we’ve been through together, why are you going back to the South?”
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to see my mother’s and father’s face light up when they see me walking towards them or celebrating the holidays with childhood friends. I could almost taste the sweet tea, the biscuits with honey, and the fried-is-fine-by-me seasoning. I was looking forward to having a puppy to keep me company at night, sleeping in until 10 in the morning, and of course – Christmas morning with those I enjoy the very most.
But as that airplane took off, as I watched the glittering skyline disappear behind the tailwind – it was as if I was abandoning a piece of my heart. While I didn’t tear up, I did sigh and dive into my New Yorker magazine which outlined 20 reasons why I should love New York. I did thoroughly enjoy the issue (as I do every year), and it inspired me to make a list of my own.
So, my dearest love, since I’m leaving you on your own for ten days, don’t forget just a handful of reasons why I adore thee:
1- At any given moment, you can step outside of your office, onto the train, or just walk down the street and hear a few different languages.
2- It harbors and caters to the artists, to the dreamers, to the crazies, and those who dare to light up the lives of others. The passionate and determined are the successful.
3- While the single women may outnumber the single men, it is nearly impossible to not be bought a drink on a Friday night. Hmm – or really any night.
4- I can go anywhere in the five boroughs for $2.25 (soon to be $2.50, sigh).
5- Even though it has a bad rep, there is always someone there to open a door, help you carry something heavy, or hold the train or elevator door open for you.
6- The moments on the train when you see another train on a different rail and catch the eye of a stranger – fully knowing you will probably never see them again, but in that second, you shared a moment that somehow, in a strange way, meant something.
7- An entire afternoon can be spent in Central Park and there is never enough time to give any museum a justified tour.
8- If you’re feeling down, upset, discouraged, or just frankly pissed off – walking through an un-crowded portion of the streets will energize you.
9- Those moments where the city seems silent. And those where it is filled with so much enthusiasm you have to smile.
10- Heels are not only accepted, but highly encouraged and those fashions that were frowned upon in the south, are gladly gawked at here.
11- Heartbreak be damned – there are more than enough pastry, ice cream, cookie, and Gelato bakeries or cafes. Not to mention endless amounts of fantastic wine and interesting people to meet who will force you to forget about Mr. Yesterday.
12- Staring in the city is not only allowed, but supported. And the views, where they be characters or skylines, are beautiful and entertaining.
13- If you have a day where you stop believing in love, all you have to do is look around. There is kindness, compassion, and romance on every corner.
14- You can decide to be in your own little world with headphones and high heels or simply take them off and be welcomed back into the Manhattan universe.
15- The city forgives you if you curse it one minute and apologize the next. Doesn’t even ask why – it just gets it.
16- If ever in doubt, throw up a hand, get a cab, and go home.
17- Possibilities lurk even on buses coming to and from the airport.
18- There are a million and one resources to help you find not only friends, but people who have similar interests and passions that you do.
19- You can play tourist whenever you want and then decide they are the enemy the next morning.
20- After a while, or maybe just a short span, the lights, the wonder, the people, the food, the sights, the experiences – still feel just as magical, but even more so, they start to feel like home.
And that’s what it is. The love I always wished for, the address I used to doodle in my notebooks, the bylines I use to imagine – are not the dreams of a young girl anymore, but the reality of, the home for – a woman. Even better, a single woman, who has the freedom, the opportunity, the brilliance, and the bravery to tackle this location, this decade of being a 20-something – on her own.
Well, maybe not completely alone. This city will always be on my side, calling me ridiculous, yet sweetly reminding me: “You’ve got this, lady.”
And just so you know, New York, I’ve got you, too. And I’ll be back – I may bring you a little sweet from the south to up your charm a notch. Until we meet again…