In 2008, I moved to Brooklyn to attend Hunter College and study dance. A small U-haul truck loaded with a mattress, my clothes, various art supplies, and my cat served as a vessel for transition. It should have been the easiest move ever, considering the light load.
But why should it be easy? ;)
The ride from Rochester, NY to NYC only lasts about 6.5 hours, 7 maybe. I cannot even say how long it took me to reach my new home in Crown Heights that day. I've blocked the exact number of extra hours out, and so has my cat.
Lost on the NJ turnpike (I had driven to NYC a MILLION times, but on that hot August day in a non air conditioned truck...who knows.) a state cop asked me how I gained access to their parking lot, which is apparently secure. He was baffled, I was lost, Meara (the cat) was hot. Have you seen a cat pant? I didn't know my cat could pant until that day.
Finally, I arrive in Brooklyn, ready to meet my dear friends who were waiting to lend a hand in unpacking & welcome me into my new home.
Did you know that when you move into a new place, you should always check the city parade schedule? Now you do. If I never write anything of use to you again, please remember this one helpful tip. I never wish upon you a duplicate of the events that unfolded that day.
Obviously traffic was at a standstill, I was calling everyone apologizing for scheduling a move during the West Indian Day Parade which marched and danced and boomed right past my new building, and meara was still panting. I was blocks away from my moving party, and yet it took me hours to arrive.
My amazing friends never once became upset during the worst move. Ever.
Later, while snacking with my pal Tim over some tasty buss up shut roti, I began to slowly realize the new path my life was taking.
Moving to NYC is hard. I'm convinced everyone goes through a hazing period of some kind. Whether it is monetary circumstance or just getting the pace into your bones, it's just different here than other places. Which is just about the most arbitrary and true sentence I could have written.
Mine included: Trucking up the 59th street station escalator, which was broken, with a severe case of bronchitis my first winter here. I was slow, people yelled. I got some Jewish guy that lived in the neighborhood arrested for aggravated entry after he followed me into my building and asked if we could "make yoga". That thanksgiving there was a double homicide on the doorstep of my building. The kids in the building wrote 'bitch' on my door because I didn't want to buy their school chocolates. Oh well. The building got bed bugs which means I got bedbugs. Meara also had bedbugs. They spare no mammal. Gun shots in neighboring apartments became semi normal.
I mostly stayed at Hunter. I slept over there many nights. The seventh floor studio is very private. I don't think anyone knew, or at least they didn't say anything.
I moved to Bushwick. I broke up with a guy I was dating back in Rochester. I took some time off from school & worked, found stability, made a support network here, went to Australia, made new and awesome friends, danced a lot, cried a lot, sang a lot, and made some art. Then I went back in the fall of 2012 to finish what I came here to do and even jetted off to Argentina on a Gilman scholarship. Not bad.
I'm pretty proud of what I've made of myself so far. I'm not rich, I don't have letters to follow my name, and I haven't even seen my name in lights, but I have learned huge important lessons that may not have come my way until much later had I chosen a different path. Who knows?
I earned what I have with the support of my parents, my school, and my friends. I am lucky. Very lucky.
I love Brooklyn. I don't know if NYC is my home forever, but I am glad that my dream of living here is now made true. I always knew I would move here, and I will continue to travel and launch into new phases.
I am more myself now than I ever have felt. Finally.
I welcome the changes that are coming, and I thank all the people and opportunities along the way.