Recently, I read Joan Didion’s Goodbye to All That after nearly a year of procrastinating. And then I read it again. And again. Sure enough, it reaffirmed what I had been thinking for nearly a year now: it’s time to leave New York.
Anyone who lives in New York will tell you how much they love to hate it and hate to love it but regardless, most will claim in near defensiveness that the only time they’re leaving the island is in a casket. We are loyal city dwellers; captains who will go down with the ship. The every day minutiae that grates at our patience is the very reason we stay. Living in New York is a pain in the ass, but it’s our pain the ass.
But what New York giveth, New York can taketh away.
Living in New York long enough can feel like staying in a friendship that has long outgrown its purpose but remains intact because neither friend wants to let go first. There’s a loyalty that comes with living here and when I finally decided it was time to move, I felt like I was stabbing my best friend in the back. I was leaving the city that had let me be me- unfettered and uncompromised.
New York can be like a fun house mirror in that it gives you a false sense of security that there is enough of you- or, enough versions of you- to satisfy every yearning and desire and promise that brought you here in the first place. Those of us who come of age in New York, people like me, live through so many different versions of ourselves while we’re here just to get by. The city gives us the impression, and wrongfully so, that at least one of these versions will leave us satisfied long enough to stay. If you’re like me, that version never materialized, despite the fact that I have never felt more like the woman I was meant to be or the woman I had hoped to become in New York. So here I am, leaving it all behind.
There have been times over the past few months when I have questioned whether moving to Boston is a mistake. After all, I’m moving to a city where I have roughly three friends, no family and zero confidence that anyone there can make a decent bagel with lox. What scares me even more than my impending law school work is the ambiguity that comes with leaving your life behind to start a new one- one that is not even fully guaranteed. Here we reach our full existential pinnacle: what is the purpose of seeking purpose if there’s no guarantee we’ll be fulfilled? There’s no perfect answer here. The best we can do is take risks we believe will produce the best result, for both ourselves and others.
For me, that looks a lot like moving to Boston for law school so I can be a boss lady attorney and eventual Senate and Presidential candidate. I am going to get. that. life. As my best friend put it the last time I went to see her in Providence, “your dreams are bigger than New York.” It’s not that New York deferred my dreams. If anything, I have lived better than I ever thought I could, with the best friends and family and community…
…but something is missing. I am left with the same void I felt growing up in Torrington, CT; that I have done all I could here and that it’s time to take on new and bigger challenges (but mostly just making it through law school).
Until next time, F-worders!