In my best Brooklyn accent: Awwwdry…..You’ve got this!
Message from a friend as I was about to depart for New York
Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.
I said farewell to this amazing city a few days ago. It’s truly been a blast. I will miss New York, but it was time to return home.
When I first arrived, my head was in a different space and my initial response was Yikes! I had been to New York several times before, but this felt different- a version of culture shock that left me both enthralled and at loose ends. In order to figure things out, I started exploring within a small circle of familiarity, gradually moving beyond it to inhabit the unfamiliar. I came to realize many of the ways I had been playing life safe and knew that being able to head in a new direction called for a leap of faith.
It is no small thing to be able to wake up and know the day will be what I choose it to be. To let go of the day to day obligations. To be able to decide without having to take anything or anyone else into account. It’s exhilarating and daunting. I cannot recall when that last happened. It took some time to get used to this way of approaching the day, but doing so was an experience of joy! It didn’t matter much what the moment was: experiencing the NY City Transit system, listening to a symphony, sipping coffee, buying groceries, or admiring a view. Everything presented itself as refreshingly new.
Someone I met here, astutely observed that I was in the unusual position of not being a tourist or a long-term resident and that put me in a kind of transition zone of temporary living- long enough to settle but not really settle in the way someone would who was making a permanent move. It was true. This vantage, however, enabled me to be part of the fabric of daily life and still be able to observe it, surprised and not surprised at the same time by what I saw and experienced. It was a time of dwelling in an urban hermitage while having fun.
Everything is amplified in this city and just about anything can happen. I have been in awe of so many experiences here- able to enjoy enough rule breaking to make my time in New York intriguing and fun. In deciding whether to do something, large or small, I would ask myself: will I be glad six months from now that I did this? If the answer was yes- and it usually was- I jumped in.
In reflecting on what I will miss most, it is easy to think of exceptional experiences that New York is known for, but it was the ordinary every day occurrences and encounters that I came to love and will remember. Here is my list of Top Ten Things about New York (in no particular order).
- My cherished home away from home in Brooklyn. The woman I rented from was kind, helpful, and hospitable. I am so fortunate to have found the place to live that I did – a comfortable haven in a great neighbourhood.
- Enjoying a cappuccino while reading the New York Times at Rocco’s Pasticceria in Greenwich Village. Sheer bliss!
- Walking the neighbourhoods of New York City. Despite their proximity to each other, each neighbourhood has their own distinct character.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art- I love art galleries and museums but the Met is my favourite. Hiding out in the Members’ Lounge with a cup of tea and a favourite book is pretty good too!
- Prospect Park in Brooklyn- New York’s “other” park is well used by the community. No tourists taking selfies. I loved the mornings there.
- Skating in Rockefeller Plaza- so much fun!
- The jazz scene is not to be missed. So glad I could experience some of it.
- Eating out- There is no shortage of very good places to eat in New York: diners, cafes, pizza places, bistros, elegant places to dine-whatever you want you can find it here. My desire to cook really soured while I lived here. I also indulged in treats at some great bakeries: Ovenly, Levain, Milk and Cookies, and Magnolia.
- The Rose Room of the New York Public Library- a huge but warm, comfortable space lined with bookshelves and tall windows that look out on the city.
- The people of New York: their spirit and fierce pride in their city is amazing. Some of my favourite moments were spent in conversations with New Yorkers.
What an absolute thrill to have lived this dream. To know that despite appearances, missteps, and uncertainties, I could say “you’ve got this”! My wild side is happy. I will savour this experience for a long time to come.
New York has been astonishing!
Photos above from top left to right: Grand Central Terminal; Flatiron Building (Manhattan); Upper East Side; Lincoln Centre; Rizzoli Bookstore; Bluenote Jazz Club; Rockefeller Plaza Skating; the Highline; Enjoying a doughnut at Dough’s in Brooklyn; DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass); The Garment Worker- Seventh Avenue; Prospect Park; Inside the Lincoln Centre- Met Opera; NY Public Library; Rocco’s Cafe; Mural in the East Village.