I dreamed of living in New York City for as long as I can remember.
My first year in New York was hard. Harder than I was prepared for.
It seemed like no matter how much money I was making, I was broke. There was one month during that first year when I had to scrape around my tiny 500 sq ft apartment for change just to buy bread. My kitchen played host to a jar of peanut butter, housed by otherwise barren cabinets.
Maybe it’s because, in NYC, there’s always something incredible happening, whether or not you’re actually involved with the incredible thing, the excitement and importance somehow rub off on you.
As hungry as I was at the time, I still felt more successful than all my friends from home. I had “made it” and they had not. I looked down at them with pity. They weren’t really living, not like I was. Their lives were dull and boring. I assumed they were all jealous of me for being so “cool” and “interesting” because I was the only one”brave” enough to move to New York. (Ha.)
Things got better my first summer when I finally got a job that paid me enough to live.
Sure, it was paycheck to paycheck, but what’s the point of living in The Greatest City in the World if you don’t enjoy it? In seven years I’m pretty sure I ate less than 10% of my meals at home. The idea of spending an evening at home watching TV seemed absurd, no matter how thin my bank account became. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Up until I actually made the decision to move to Nashville I had never even thought about the possibility of leaving New York. Life outside of New York wasn’t real as far I was concerned…
And then, during a three-day vacation in Nashville, something changed. It was as if the spell was lifted. The thoughts started pouring in the minute the plane landed and only grew louder as time went on. “I could really live here .” “I feel happier here than in New York.” “I belong here .” “I need to move here .” “I’m moving here.” I finally made it back to Nashville at the end of October and it only took two days for me to know I was ready to set the plans in motion.
Within a week, I was packing up my Brooklyn apt and signing a lease on a (cheaper and bigger) apartment in Nashville.
I’ve turned in my metro cards for keys to my very own car and I’m actually excited to be a driver again. You can’t sing at the top of your lungs on a crowded subway or backseat of a Uber… I’ll always love you New York and who knows? I might be back someday. The city will never look or feel the same to me, though. Once you realize the fairytale only exists in your head, it’s hard to go back. I’ll always be in love with this city. I’ll always feel connected to it in some way. I’ll always defend it against criticism, especially from those who’ve never actually lived there. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake the sense of pride that comes from being able to say I lived in New York.
It may not be the center of the universe and it may not actually be the Greatest City in the World, but I’d still argue that the words made famous by Frank Sinatra are 100% true.
And If I Can Make It There / You Know I’m Gonna Make It Just About Anywhere / Come On Come True New York, New York, New York