Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New York City: Chapter 3

The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. The Capital of the World. New York City, my home.

In February of 1999, I booked a one-way ticket to Manhattan and moved in with my brother. I was 18 years old and fearless. I was ready to take on the world and, because I knew college simply wasn't for me, I figured I could get no better education than what the world of New York City would offer me. I was right. In the year that I lived in Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan, just about everything that makes me who I am today took shape. It was not easy and I barely got by at times but it was spectacular. I made so little money that the folks at my local grocery store knew me and could tell if my week was good by whether or not I could splurge and buy ground beef for my pasta sauce. I lived off of eggs, hummus, pasta and Raisin Bran Crunch cereal which to this day, I cannot eat. I'm that sick of it. Still. I rose and fell during that year and loved every minute of it. I ended up moving back to Atlanta for a few years with the intention of giving community college a whirl in hopes of returning to the Big Apple and entering the agent trainee program at William Morris.

Five years later, I got a call from my sister saying her firm in DC had an opening in their Manhattan office and she asked if I'd want to move back. Um. When do we leave, Allison?!. Timing was fortuitous on both ends as I was just finishing my Associates program when Allison was set to be moved. Two weeks after I got my degree in February of 2006, just shy of my 26th birthday, we moved into our little 420 square foot apartment on York Avenue in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. I had no job, no direction and no plan but I was back. Finally come April, I started working at KBC Financial and thus began my evolution into a New Yorker. For 7 years, I lived passionately and with gusto in this city that never sleeps and, once again, loved every minute of it. In May of 2012, I took life by the balls and left New York again. This time for Italy which even I can admit is better than Manhattan. In October of 2012, I returned to the city for a mere week and a half before moving across the country to make what I thought would be my final home in Denver.

A year and a half later, just one month ago, I returned to New York for the third time. I just can't shake this place. I fell in love with New York when I was 13 years old and I've never fully ended that relationship. Even while living in Denver, I traveled back to New York four times over the course of a year and I just couldn't leave it behind. When my former boss unexpectedly inquired as to whether or not I'd be interested in returning to my old position, there wasn't an ounce of my heart that wasn't 300% in. As mentioned, I've been back for one month and I can confidently say I'm never leaving again if I can help it. Unless I win the lottery and can relocate to a villa in Italy.

When I'd gone back to Atlanta to pursue my degree, I got myself in some trouble and clearly took much longer to get my Associates than I'd planned. During my time studying, one of my classmates became one of my greatest, dearest friends. I've mentioned Patrick on my blog numerous times but as a reminder, he's probably one of the greatest people I know. His selflessness is so far reaching, it can't possibly be measured. Those who take time to read my words here know that Denver was a deeply refining time of my life and very difficult. However, what started out as pain grew into joy as I remembered what New York City taught me as a 19 year old in how to be strong and stand on my own two feet. Although my life eventually became fruitful in Denver, Patrick knew that I'd walk away without a moment's hesitation should NYC become a reality again. When I told him my old job wanted me back, his reaction was much like mine many years ago when he said when do we leave?. He was ready and willing to hop in a U-haul with me and drive across the country. On April 9th, he did just that and joined me in saying farewell to Denver.

I gotta say, the idea of driving a U-haul nearly 2,000 miles was daunting. I'd done the drive once but in a minivan with no furniture. Quite a different experience. Turns out Patrick and I had more fun than I could think possible over the course of four days.

We visited with dear friends in Kansas City. We met an old friend for frozen custard in St. Louis. We spent the night with family in Ballwin where we were welcomed with great wine and a tremendous steak dinner. We started the next morning with homemade crepes, a specialty of my Aunt Renata's. We drove 15 hours and stayed in a hotel that may or may not have been part of a Dexter episode when we discovered a fly swatter in our room. And we said hello again to Manhattan only to say goodbye to my couch that wouldn't fit in the door of my apartment. I suppose if that's the only hiccup of the entire move, I'm doing ok.

Now, I'm settling into the routine of the city again. This, my third chapter and third season of life in Manhattan, will prove to be the best. I have no doubt. While the familiarity of my old job and living in the same neighborhood as my sister is comforting, it's an entirely new New York for me and that's exciting. I've grown, I've matured and I'm stronger than I've ever been which allows for a simple, sweet view of life that I've never had before. There's a quiet strength and peace I feel that lends itself to confidence that simply has not been present in my life. I've needed to learn some tough lessons and, true to how I've always been, I've only been able to learn said lessons through trial and hardship. I'm kinda hoping I'm through that phase of life and instead can now happily take the road less traveled. No matter how much I wished for certain things in life before, I'll openly admit that I'm not sure I'd ever have been prepared or ready for real happiness. Some of the insecurities and lack of self worth I've had in my past have prevented me from understanding how to live freely. I'm so proud of actually learning through these trials and applying what I've learned to life now and in the future. I'm really thrilled to see where I go from here as I've finally broken through chains that have held me back. Chains that I put on myself and chains that bound me to a life far less fruitful than now. I thank god for his provision and care over me and for what he has deemed me worthy of receiving. His plan is unfolding, bit by bit and day by day. What a hope I have and how exhilarating it is to move through this journey of life with such optimism. I will treat this life going forward with humility, grace and thankfulness as I now see through eyes of gratitude vs. longing. I have a feeling great and mighty things are to come and I celebrate this. Thank you, god, for patiently loving me and showing me the way. The right way.

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