The first time I shamelessly cried in public, I was 21 years old. I was returning to my car, parked near my job in Brooklyn Heights, only to find that it had been towed. I’d spent the night before sleeping on a friend’s couch, as I’d recently moved back to the college dorms on Long Island after my first summer in the city. Though I can’t remember the details, I most likely drank too much the night before and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning with my coke-addled co-workers. When I discovered my car was not where I’d left it, I crumpled to the sidewalk and cried, sobbed really. On that beautiful Brooklyn street, where the residents were taking their dogs on morning walks, I was lamenting the bad choices that seemed to be taking over my life. Someone asked if I was okay. I think I lied and said yes.
That was six years ago. Maybe some would say that was when I became a real New Yorker, but I don’t think so. Perhaps it was when I learned the subway system so well, I didn’t have to use the MTA website to map out my path. It could have been when I started watching NY1 for my news. Hell, it could have been when I saw my first celebrity and brushed it off, when my phone was stolen out of my hand or when I killed my first cockroach, or my 15th.
Including the three years I lived on Long Island in college, making trips into the city whenever I could, I’ve spent one third of my life in New York. It would seem, regardless of whether or not I can pinpoint the moment it happened, that I am a New Yorker. It says as much on my driver’s license. I spent so many months getting lost and finding my bearings in a place so overwhelming it sometimes felt like it would swallow me whole. Slowly, I started to figure things out. I made less wrong turns. I made friends — and lost them. I became a New York bitch, and I got over it. I figured out how to deal with terrible roommates and shitty jobs. I met Cole and learned how to be someone’s partner, both romantically and professionally. I discovered that deep down, I’ve always been a writer. While I was trying to survive in this city, I somehow managed to thrive.
I have a home here with my husband, I have a job, I have friends. In a lot of ways, I feel like a New Yorker. At least, more so than I feel like a Mainer — the only other place I’ve lived. The thing is, this is temporary. New York will always have a special place in my heart, but it’s really not my home.
In a couple of years — I’m sure it will come out of nowhere — Cole and I will make our migration north to Boston. For the second time in my life, I’ll be starting over in a new city, learning the ropes. If all goes according to plan, this will be my real home, where I spend most of my life. This will be the place I build a career, have children and celebrate my anniversaries with Cole. I know it won’t be easy, but with our families closer, and a handful of people we know in Boston, hopefully it won’t be so hard. If nothing else, I’ll still have my New York edge. Because if I can make it here, well, you know.