So, I don’t live in NYC anymore
It happened kind of suddenly. After I left my job in the beginning of June, I enjoyed free time in the city getting to experience all the things I couldn’t when I first moved there — then I was unemployed but also broke. In August, I sublet my apartment, staying temporarily with my parents before leaving to travel abroad. I went back to the city a few times and somehow it was already losing some of it’s charm. When I returned from traveling and drove up to grab some of my winter clothes I knew I wasn’t moving back.
I’d been toying with the idea of relocating to Philadelphia, still having access to all the benefits of city life a bit more affordably and with a shorter drive home. Now, I’m committed to staying in NJ for at least the next year, partnering on a project in Atlantic City with two of my oldest friends. While I felt ready to leave the pace and the price of NYC behind, it’s a big leap to go from a global hub to the suburbs of southern NJ. I miss really small things, like the ease of ordering Thai food at 11pm on a Monday night, or being able to walk down the block to grab groceries or a bottle of wine. I miss the communities I was a part of, my friends, my yoga studio, the meditation group, the local cafe. I just miss walking, I miss the subway (although not the degradation of service that we’ve seen in the past year). I miss how everyone you meet is doing 10 things, at once overwhelming and inspiring. I miss never having to worry about drinking and driving. I miss never having to drive!
The hardest part, however, is that in order to make this new venture work I’m moving back in with my parents. The thing is, what I miss the most about New York has nothing to do with the city. I miss my home. I have lived in the same apartment for six years, at first with a roommate and eventually alone. That apartment will always be the first home I made for myself and it’s really hard to leave it. It’s not really about the physical space — of course it was lovely to have a spare room that became a sort of walk-in closet, craft storage, occasionally friend-in-need bedroom; a small yard that I could look out at from my cozy living room; a kitchen stocked with all the cooking tools to make an amateur home cook very happy; a private entrance making the whole apartment feel more like a little cottage house than a typical NYC apartment. Really, it’s about the way it felt to be there. After a long day at work, I would open the door and feel relieved to be home. It was cozy, warm, safe, and, most meaningfully, it was mine. It was a space for me to just be me. As an introvert, this is incredibly valuable, although it’s valuable for anyone. It breaks my heart to leave that home behind. I think it’s made harder by this temporary bridge of living in my parent’s spare bedroom. I’m leaving more than a two-bedroom apartment with a yard, I’m leaving a sense of place, of autonomy and personal space, I’m leaving a place where the “rules” were my own.
I had varied aspirations as a child, but one of them was always to have my own home. Even then, when I was drawing dream houses, it went deeper than the constructed space. I wanted a place to call my own, where I would always feel comfortable and safe. I wanted a place where others would feel the same, where friends always felt welcome, where happy memories would be made.
My apartment was the first place I realized what my home could feel like, the first place I learned that I was capable of having the home I desired and deserved. I have no idea when or where I’ll have my own home again, how long my living situation will feel temporary and transient. For now, I’m trying to find ways to ground myself, to take hold of the space I have and make it my own, and to allow this to feel difficult, unsteady, and uncomfortable without judgement.