When I moved to New York, I didn’t plan to fall for more than the skyline and endless possibilities (and the pizza).
Within my first week, I met a guy.
I think most people would say when you move to a new city, you need to focus on yourself and focus on why you’re there. And while I completely agree, I think dating a local was the easiest way to learn my surroundings. But the trick is you have to end the relationship just as fast.
He was from Russia, but went to high school and college in the city, making him the best tour guide a Midwest girl could ask for. He knew every good bar and restaurant and what everything meant, and he knew everyone. We were like the two troublemakers in your elementary class everywhere we went. It was fun and exciting and we never stopped laughing.
Every weekend was spent with him showing me something new that wasn’t in the “Welcome to New York” packet I received from my program directors. I learned that Houston street is pronounced “How-ston” and not “Hugh-ston” and you’re “on” Long Island not “in.” He taught me what Smorgasburg is (a Brooklyn flea food market … not a drug). He introduced me to Williamsburg, the hipster capital of the world, and which way each subway line runs and which ones not to take if you want to keep your wallet at night. In a sense, he helped build me into a somewhat knowledgeable New Yorker. After our 12-hour first date, we developed a relationship that people normally write about for New York rom-coms. We laid in open fields in the park and took walks to museums in the rain. I felt alive. It was wild, and exciting, and quick.
When August came, along with the summer and my dream internship ending, he also ended.
All of a sudden there wasn’t someone to give me advice on how to buy an air conditioner for my new room or help carry it up a four-story walk-up. I couldn’t ask him the best way to move all of my stuff from one side of the city to the other or invite him to anything I found exciting. Or call him when I felt frazzled and scared. I lost my guide.
But with time I learned the loneliness was the exact thing I needed to find my own independence in the city. I knew all the lingo and the happenings, but I didn’t know my place.
A thing people don’t tell you about graduating and moving here is you are essentially starting over and creating a new life from scratch. Yes, you have the degree, the job, the apartment, but these are all things you can bring or have anywhere. The thing there isn’t a guide for is building a new base of people around you. People from home don’t follow you here. It’s a running joke in New York that you’ll be friends with anyone just to have friends in the city. I think I’m up to 4. But like 2 I could call if I needed a ride to the hospital in an emergency or something.
I started to realize while it was great to have someone show me things so I didn’t look like a loser, it became time to take the reins and start building myself, by myself.
When I was in the midst of the break-up, I went for a run and I stopped, likely because of a cramp, but to be poetic, I was panting, looking at the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance. As cheesy as it might sound, as I caught my breath, I thought of this quote:“Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and where you want to be.”
And that’s when I realized, in a city that can eat you alive if you let it, it can sure make you feel like anything is possible.