I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the 4th of July in 1988. On July 5, 1988 I decided I wanted to live in New York City. Ok, maybe it wasn’t that early on, but as far back as I can remember, it was always my dream to move to the Big Apple and until I got there, I felt that my life was on hold.
I remember my first trip to NYC vividly. I was 11 years old and came up with my mom, sister and grandpa. We saw The Lion King on Broadway and stayed in a hotel right by Times Square. I remember walking through the city and feeling like I had electricity running through my veins. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of every building, street sign, billboard and store I saw. I met Bernadette Peters outside the stage door for Annie Get Your Gun! (There’s an incredibly embarrassing picture that goes along with that, but I’ll save myself from that shame for now…) I think I talked about that trip for years and kept waiting for the day when I’d go to New York and not have to come back.
When it came time to apply for colleges, my options were a small town in Connecticut, a small town in Maryland and a town 45 minutes outside of New York City. Maybe if I did my homework or applied myself in any way during high school, I’d have bigger or better options, but alas… I was who I was. I was a terrible student. I somehow got accepted at Hofstra University, which got me 400 miles closer to New York City then my house and so that was that. I remember the first time I went into the city with my friends and that all-too-familiar electricity was right back in my veins. I think I spent every weekend in the city hanging out with friends, going drinking in the bars of Hell’s Kitchen and the West Village, sitting outside of 30 Rock for hours hoping for SNL standby tickets and wandering aimlessly in an attempt to discover all the amazing secrets and stories the city had to offer. Summers and breaks were spent sub-letting apartments in the city so I didn’t have to miss a day of my life in this amazing city. I worked as a summer camp counselor, a dog-walker and an office intern – anything to keep me in my soon-to-be home.
Upon graduating, my real life began. I got my first apartment with a friend from school. We had a tiny 2-bedroom in Harlem and I was so happy living in my 8×8 foot room you’d have thought I grew up in a shoebox. Waking up every morning and taking the subway to work was all part of the dream life I envisioned for myself growing up. I loved that I had to take two trains to get to my job. I loved that I squished into a rush hour train and couldn’t exhale without breathing on a strangers face. I loved that I had to deal with the homeless guy who peed on my doorstep every morning. I loved everything I had to put up with to live here, because this was the dream. I felt such a sense of pride when I told people “I live in New York City,” and genuinely fell in love with this city.
Fast-forward 6 years and I think that love is gone. My relationship with New York changes depending on my job stability, income, housing situation, relationships with friends and lovers and the season. This city makes it very hard to remain in love with it. I am constantly shoved, spat on, cursed at, looked down upon and ignored by it’s members. I am constantly stepping around heaps of garbage on the sidewalk, standing on a crowded train because some idiot decided their backpack was more deserving of a seat than a human being and being shown how having money in this city just makes it all so much easier.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some incredible experiences over the past few years that I know were only because I lived here. I got to work on some of the best shows. I got to meet some of the best people. I got to eat and drink and watch and laugh at and touch and walk on some of the best things in the world. And those memories (and Instagram posts) will last forever.
I have been living in the same apartment for the past 4.5 years and while I love the space (a hybrid between a 1-bedroom and a studio layout) I am so incredibly over my neighborhood. I have tried to move since my first lease was up, but found it impossible to find an apartment in a decently desirable area for less than or equal to what I pay now. I think the combination of living in the same apartment and not seeing any upward growth in my career has started to take its toll on me.
I’m no longer in love with living here and so it seems time that I ask myself some very serious questions about what I do with that knowledge… Do I wait and hope things turn around and that my love for this city returns? Do I hope that a wonderful new career opens up for me? Or do I finally realize that my dream of living here was accomplished and move on to the next stage of my life? I am giving myself until May (when my lease is up) to make that decision and I am considering my options for where to go next.
I have visited Chicago twice and loved it both times. Another city I love is D.C. I have friends and/or family in both of those cities so I would have people to count on to help get me acclimated to my new life. Part of me also thinks it would be exciting to try something/some place new. I have friends in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco and they all tell me I would enjoy living there. I also dream of moving abroad, but that may be a bigger challenge than I am willing to take on right now… I am taking on this challenge knowing very well that if I move and hate it, New York is not going anywhere. Well…at least not yet.
Of course, moving to a new city doesn’t get rid of the stresses of finding an affordable place to live, a good job, etc. And I am well aware that every city has it’s problems. I just think I am sick of the ones I face daily in New York. And I haven’t fully given up on NYC just yet. I am forcing myself to remain open to falling back in love with it and kinda hoping that happens (moving to a new city is going to be very difficult).
So, what do the next few months have in store for me? Will I actually move to a new city? If so, where?! All these questions (and more!) will be answered before May! 4 months and counting! *screaming emoji*