New York and I are coming up on our tenth anniversary. It has been a complicated relationship from the beginning, but I do love this city and all it has done for me. Most relevantly, it has afforded me the ability to change. I was a confused 18 year-old child with a drug problem when I moved here. The move drastically repaired my relationship with my family and gave me the luxury of growing up on my own–which was the only way that I could. This city has given me both toughness and vulnerability, compassion, and a sense of self-reliance that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. For that I am grateful. I always will be.
New York is full of life and possibility, and for a kid going into college it was one of the most eye-opening choices I could have made. Coming from a very small town in the Midwest, New York changed everything for me. It is alive and frenetic and freeing in a way that I can’t quite describe. But, it is also dirty and sad, and full of people down on their luck. There is a very tangible sense of divide here between the haves and the have nots, and seeing both sides of that day in and day out can be wearing and difficult.
This city has also made me very jaded. I doubt people and their intentions upon introduction. I doubt my abilities and myself constantly. And although I have made some of the best friends I will ever have here, it’s hard to trust people. I feel like I have been pretty open with my past, but (in my experience) New York is full of really good liars running away from something, or simply running away from being ordinary. The poet you just met? The one with the “difficult past”? He is really just some guy named Josh who’s from a loving and well-rounded family in Michigan that wishes he’d call more often.
And this city is HARD. Oh my goodness, it’s hard. Things that should be simple just get complicated with transportation and logistics, and downright rude people (though, touching on the self-reliance thing I wrote about earlier, this could also be a good thing). On the flip side I can find a drink (even if it comes from a rotating bullet-proof glass window), cheap dumplings, someone to hang out with, and so many other things at any time of day or night here–which is both bad and good I suppose.
Whatever pros and cons I have, ten years is a long time. The span from 18-28 years, and the amount I have grown and changed in those years, makes it seem more significant. I have done so much here, but a part of me is really ready to leave. So, New York, I love you and I hate you, I want to leave you, but I can’t imagine life without you. What should we do?