We drove all night, until we could drive no more, and then pulled the U-Haul over at a motel just off the highway somewhere in Maryland. It had been an incredibly long, exhausting day of packing and driving… and saying good-bye… but I found it hard to fall asleep even though it was after 3am. Tomorrow would be an even bigger day – we’d go through a tunnel and emerge in New York City to a whole new life. And I had no idea what might possibly lie ahead. Hence… sleeplessness.
The next morning I insisted we eat breakfast at the Waffle House across the street from the motel. “Please,” I asked John. It felt like an appropriate way to say good-bye to the South. I had hashbrowns – smothered, covered, and diced, of course – and tall glasses of sweet tea. Then we were back in the U-Haul, back on the highway. Here we go.
Five hours later we pulled up in front of our new apartment – an itty bitty studio on Avenue C and 10th in the East Village, just above a hookah bar. How did I get here, I wondered as we unloaded the truck together. I met a man and fell in love and now we live in New York City together. I kept repeating this in my head, because nothing about this felt real. Life is weird.
I was broke and jobless, but always up for an adventure. And I had secretly myself permission to go back home if I hated it.
And I did hate it. For a good year. But I loved John. So I stuck it out. And I don’t even know when it happened, can’t pinpoint the moment or day. But one day it was just… home. I loved it. I never wanted to leave. I still cannot figure out when or how it happened, but I found myself desperately, passionately in love with this city. With the energy and the history, the culture which was so completely different than anything I’d ever known.
On Monday, John and I will celebrate six years as New Yorkers. Last year we went to the top of the Empire State Building to celebrate. This year we’ll be on vacation, but maybe we’ll toast with manhattans or something. Sometimes it feels like I just moved here and sometimes I feel like I’ve been here forever. It is home in every sense of the word, and I very much hope to spend the rest of my days on this strange, little island. Happy anniversary, New York City.