In June of this year, I decided to move to New York City. My boyfriend had just been offered a large scholarship for law school and it seemed like a sign.
But three weeks later, as I sat on the plane looking down at my newly adopted home, I cried. I cried because it felt like a mistake. I cried because it was too much, too fast. I cried because, for the first time in my life, I couldn’t look at my calendar and see an expected end date to this trip.
As my eyes cleared and I walked off the plane, the feelings of terror were replaced with the familiar thrill of being somewhere new. “This is where I live,” I thought, as I walked past selfie-taking travelers. I’m the one who will stay here when they all go home.
When a random woman called out to me in the airport, offering me an unused MTA ticket, I knew it was a sign. I was meant to be here.
The next few days, I hit the ground running. I applied to as many jobs as I could find each morning and headed into the city each afternoon. As a recent graduate, living on savings and others’ hospitality, I was in a unique position to tour New York City.
Who knew the next time I’d be able to squish through the gates of the Bronx Zoo on a free Wednesday morning or saunter down the boardwalk at Coney Island? I was on a quest to fill my hours with memories I’d never forget and tastes I’d never be able to replicate.
In two weeks, I had two job offers and a promising potential on the way. I picked the wonderful company I’m at now and negotiated my start date for August 1st. At just under the one month mark, I was working between the New York Public Library and Grand Central Station in one of the busiest, richest, and most glamorous areas of New York City’s Midtown (But maybe I’m just starstruck).
About two weeks after my start date, I signed the lease on my first shoebox (err, apartment). Located in the Upper East Side, I share a railroad-style apartment with two fellow Latter-day Saints. The apartment ticked every box on my list and many I hadn’t even thought to include. I live twenty minutes from work via the 4 and 5 train, a ten minute walk from Central Park, and am within walking distance to laundry, groceries, shopping, and Shake Shack.
Over the past few months, I’ve created my new normal. I go to church weekly at the building just two doors down. I make the trek to Spanish Harlem for the island’s only Aldi’s every month for groceries. I treat myself at Shake Shack and Sashimi Express on stressful days and take long walks through Midtown on good days. I travel to Brooklyn from the Upper East Side and back 4 times a week. I venture out to Philadelphia and Montreal when I can get away for long weekends. I try to make the most of the glamorous life I didn’t ask for and don’t deserve, but am very thankful to have.
Now, as I head into my first solo-Holiday season and settle even further into this new city lifestyle, I still have moments where I tear up. Often the tears are from gratitude for my smooth transition, but sometimes they come from that pesky adult onset homesickness. The sorrow that comes from knowing you won’t be moving back home to a house full of siblings next summer and the sinking feeling that you might be forgetting the details that make you a local in your hometown.
New York is my adopted home and I intend to use every free moment to explore its bustling streets and crowded tunnels. These are my Set Up Years. The time I’ll use to figure out my career path, my educational goals, my personal timeline. The years to make mistakes, get back up, and keep running forward.
If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere.