Close to a year ago, I bid Onward and F-Word a temporary ado as I left New York City after nearly ten years and moved to Boston for law school. During that time, I felt ready to leave New York. I had done everything I wanted to do there but I underestimated the cost of leaving behind the city that taught me to be a boss ass woman and the friendships that I made or that followed me there from my rural hometown in Connecticut. You never realize how New York you really are until you’re somewhere else.
Admittedly, this has been the loneliest year of my life. I have stretched myself to feel connected to others who I don’t identify with just to feel as if I wasn’t that alone, an act I thought was a compromise but which ultimately has felt suffocating. What I miss most about my community and friendships in New York is the lack of explanation that was necessary in order to be understood. Here, the over-explaining has left me feeling asphyxiated. I guess I just miss people who get me.
Boston, to me, is perpetually inhibiting. There is so much sameness. It’s an urban Levittown. I walk down the streets disturbed by nothing, mesmerized by no one. I have become completely and utterly unsurprised by the sameness. I miss the beat of New York. I miss the overstimulation of the crowded streets and rushing anywhere and everywhere to do anything and everything. I miss the hot summers when I wore short skirts and my thighs stuck to the subway seats. I miss tapping my foot impatiently waiting for the D train at 2am to go back up to Harlem. I miss my friends and my family. I miss dancing and hula-hooping on my friend’s roof decks (shout out to Private Hudson Terrace). I miss protesting in the streets and watching people protest in the streets. I miss panhandlers. I miss the subway musicians. I miss my leaky bathroom ceiling. I miss the car alarms, the sirens and the warnings of danger. I miss El Castillo de Agua and cuban sandwiches. I miss complaining about New York, because there’s nothing more New York than that. I miss feeling like I belonged somewhere.
I regret leaving New York. Like I had written a year ago, leaving the city felt like stabbing my best friend in the back. At the time, I wanted to explore what else there was but as it turns out, for me, there is little else than what New York gave me. It leaves me wondering whether leaving everything and everyone behind was really worth it to pursue my dreams. It makes me question the expectations I have for myself in this entire law school journey and whether I really needed to leave New York to do it all. Could my quest for justice and truth not have happened there? Where is there more truth and justice than the city that birthed the Stonewall riots, where Malcolm X laid some of his roots and where so many socio-political movements matured?
I am bad at managing my own expectations. I expect the people I meet and the things that I do to fulfill me completely, to reciprocate me unequivocally, to accept me unquestionably. I often place too much trust in people too quickly and end up mistaking friendships or relationships as genuine. Those flaws were manageable in New York because I had that city to fall back on and my other friendships to run to. Here, those feelings are quantified with the odds stacked against me because I came here with nothing and no one. Law school has been equally unfulfilling. I find the work fascinating but the sexism and otherness to be overwhelming. Law school does not like to make room for weird, complicated girls.
I left New York wanting to know if there was more but as it turns out, there’s even less than what I had before. Here’s to two more years of this mess and New York being there when I’m done.