It was raining when I moved to New York, exactly three years ago today.
I sat at the Charlotte Airport, resting my elbow on my overstuffed carry-on bag and my purse while nervously applying chapstick in small, mindless circles. My mind was everywhere. I had planned this day perfectly and now that it was here, everything that could go wrong, had. It was foggy and misty outside and in Manhattan, my destination and hopefully, my permanent location. My flight was now delayed almost two hours, and I spent every passing minute desperately obsessing over my decision to leave my family and take the biggest, greatest and most important leap of faith I had ever made. I didn’t have much in savings or any job offers or even job interviews. I didn’t have enough rent money for much more than a month or so and I currently only had a futon to my name. On loan of course, from a girl who technically speaking, I had never met before.
I grew anxious as we prepared for takeoff, silently saying a prayer that everything would work itself out. And that all those dreams I had invested in for so long would turn out to be more than just lofty, unrealistic ideas about a life that I’d never actually have.
Once I caught that cab from LGA and headed toward Brooklyn to meet the kind lady who was giving me my first break in the form of a comforter and shelves to put my minimal things on, it was still ugly outside. I had never ventured too far away from midtown at this point in my New York journey and the thought of going to Park Slope — a place I had never read or heard about except for random Craigslist postings — was terrifying. I knew that I wouldn’t always have this friend around and I’d need to vend for myself — little did I know that the scariest thing about the zip code was the tantrums of the toddlers in their very expensive strollers.
I watched the droplets roll down the taxi’s window and I tried my best to soak up the moment instead of glancing at my phone and taking note of landmarks, trying to figure out where I was. Where I was headed.
What the hell I was doing.
I had similar thoughts six months later, walking home from the grocery store in Harlem to my studio a few days after starting the blog. The rain was just heavy enough to need your hood and not dangerous enough to warrant an umbrella, and yet I managed to go the entire day dodging them. It had been one of those difficult 9-6’s — too much work and too little time, so many questions and nothing on the subject matter of small business I cared to answer. I had made another decision and took another chance — overcoming my own love addiction — and I figured it was probably a terrible idea. I ached for love just as crazily as I wanted to work for a different publication or website. I had found footing here but it didn’t fit me quite right. I was showered with luck but somehow the fortune that was supposed to be in my favor, was off. I hadn’t found the love. I hadn’t found the job – so what had I actually achieved here other than much higher bills and boxed noodles?
“Oh my god, you really want dumplings and noodles aaaagain?” I implored Mr. Possibility. It was the third time we had gone to his place by his job in Rockefeller Center that month and in the middle of February, raining, freezing, and I had no desire to leave the comfort of my apartment to take a train 10 stops downtown. Let’s go, Tigar! I have a surprise for you,” he pushed and eventually, I threw up my hair into a sock bun, wrapped myself up in a white coat and snuggled with Mr. P until we reached 50th. But when we rose from the toasty heat of the underground cart, it had started to downpour.
And we didn’t have umbrellas.
He swiftly wrapped me in his arm and we ran, hand-in-hand from 7th avenue to 5th, to eat $5 shrimp dumplings and attempt to eat thin, stringy japanese food with chopsticks. Admittedly, neither of us were very good at eating properly, but with matted hair from the rain and his fancy loafers nearly ruined, we savored the dry space with florescent lighting. I’m all wet — are you happy now? I teased and though we had just officially made things official, he reached over, planted a big wet one on me and said, Ha! I love you! I’m always happy when I’m with you.
I wasn’t happy anymore, that was the sad truth.
And as I sat there in Williamsburg in late July, counting how many pairs of Hunter boots passed our window, watching him chew his mac ‘n cheese and go on about something I was no longer listening to, I summoned up the courage to tell him that something needed to change. He held me as I cried that night, promising to be better, pleading for another chance and I told him that chances were what I took and that I’d give it to him, but he had to really, really try. With my blessing that goodbye wasn’t coming just yet, I felt his body relax and drift to sleep, but I laid awake, listening to the rain hit his pane and trying so hard to convince myself it was louder than the pain I was feeling. And that somehow, the rain would drown out the fear in the pit of my stomach.
So. Many. Butterflies.
That’s what I told my mom when she asked me how my final interview went at iVillage. It was a hot August day and it had been raining off-and-on, causing my hair to frizz in ways I knew were not professional, but very-me anyway. I’m never quite fully put together in the way I look, but almost always in the way I express myself. And still, my tummy couldn’t have been more upset, excited or anxious detailing the highlights of my meeting with the company I so badly wanted to work for. I was standing in the phone booth near 14th street, protecting myself from the unpredictable summer showers and using my hand to cover my face because my grin was just that big. I couldn’t explain it — even to my mother who I could tell everything to — but somehow, the rain must have seeped through that glass of the booth and right into my bones, telling me that something amazing was about to happen. I was getting ready to run straight into the next best thing that ever happened.
What’s next? What could possibly be next? I wondered a few nights ago, walking home with my red raincoat pulled tightly around me, Lucy pacing at my side, intensely interested in everything we passed.
I could see the storm coming from the North, gray clouds were taking over the Upper West Side and I patted myself on the back for finally remembering to check the weather every morning. I checked to see if I brought an umbrella (I had) and considered how many towels I had in the closet — was there one to dry off the pup? Three years later — and the rain is still following me. But now I know how to prepare for it.
How to embrace it.
How to actually love it. Maybe that’s why a black umbrella is the shelter for all of these posts, surrounded by silly little red hearts, floating their way down the page. Maybe it’s why I moved to New York — to face the pressure, to face myself. To be overcome with challenge. To be pleasantly surprised with sudden down-pouring, infectious, love. To walk and make it through every weather this city can offer me.
Because honestly, I kind of love it when it rains in New York.
The glistening of the buildings. The sound of the droplets on the roof or the window. The sparkle on the street. The sound of kids splashing in the puddles and the sight of couples canoodling to stay dry. The best part of rain in the city is what’s so great about New York itself: after the storm passes — whatever it may be — everything that was bad or grimy or unsure from before is washed away.
And what’s left is up to you create. You just have to decide if you can put up with a little rain to get there.