Friday, May 20, 2016
Since I was born on January 12, I have always used 12 as my go-to number. Because of this, it makes this anniversary a little more special to me. I also know I say this every year, but its crazy to think I have lived in this marvelous city for 12 years. If you would have asked me 12 years ago if I would still be living in New York City in 2016, I would have laughed in your face. Seriously. Well, I guess the joke's on me because I instantly fell in love with New York and made a life for myself here.
With all that being said, this anniversary is kind of bittersweet for me because it may be my last anniversary spent living here. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this city with all my heart, but the more time I spend here, it gets harder to move back home to Chicago. The more I'm here, the more I love it, but this makes it much more difficult for me to think about packing up and moving home.
It was always in my grand plan to eventually move back to Chicago, get married and have kids, all back home with my family by my side. Although it's like eight years off my original plan of all this happening, I still hope for that plan to come to fruition. I literally cannot imagine starting a family of my own away from the ones that raised me. Now mind you, I am nowhere close to doing that because I first need to find a guy who actually likes me enough to even go out with me. However, even without a dude in the picture, it still may be time for me to move back and be closer to my family. I have spent eleven more years in NYC than I (or anyone else) expected me to and they have been some of the best years of my life. I moved here at 22 years old so I basically grew up here. I became an adult here. And I did it all on my own. But as big as a step as it was for me to make the move out here only being here once and knowing no one, it might be time to make the giant move back to Chicago.
In my twelve years in New York City I have met a ton of people, ran a ton of miles, and eaten a ton of great food. And obviously a whole lot more. There are things here that I literally cannot imagine living without that are unique to New York and make it so special. There are things that I have experienced here that I don't know I could experience in the same way anywhere else. But I also know, there are a whole lot more things to experience, no matter where I live.
I really have struggled with how I wanted this post to go because on previous anniversaries I've written about officially becoming a New Yorker as well as my favorite things about living in New York. Because my future is so up in the air about if this is indeed my last anniversary here, I wasn't exactly sure what tone I wanted to take or what I actually wanted to write about. I didn't want it to be a farewell New York post because I am not saying goodbye quite yet (if at all). I thought about listing my favorite New York moments or my "firsts" that occurred right here in the big Apple or what things in NYC I'm not sure I could live without, but just couldn't decide. So instead of all of that, I decided to answer some questions I get asked often about my life here and how it all actually began. So if you didn't know, here's some insight...
1) Why did you move here in the first place? After I graduated college (In Jan of 2003), I knew I wanted to become a teacher, but I needed a master's degree to do that. I applied to National Louis University in Illinois (because that's where everyone goes for that degree) and immediately got accepted. I had even registered for classes there to begin in the fall. However, in the back of my mind I wondered if I should take a risk and apply out of state somewhere for a change of scenery and new experience. That's when my mom jokingly suggested applying to NYU. The summer going into junior year of college, she had taken me to New York City for the first time and I fell in love. But I couldn't actually imagine living there, so far away from my family. As the girl who hated sleepovers and cried every night at overnight camp (even if it was only twenty minutes from home), I couldn't imagine actually leaving home for good. So even though I was already registered for classes in Illinois, I decided to apply to NYU on a whim and see if I'd even get in. Well, low and behold, I did get accepted. What followed was the biggest decision of my life: To stay in Chicago or to go to New York for the year to get my masters. After going back and forth on this decision for days (and shedding many tears...sound familiar?!?!), I decided to go for it and take a risk and move away for the one year Master's Program at NYU. If I hated it, it was only a year, so it wasn't a huge deal; I'd survive.
2) Why did you stay after your original plan of one year? As my year of school was winding down, I didn't feel ready to leave New York yet. I had one of the best years of my life but still felt there was so much more of the city that I had to experience. I told myself I would teach one year out year and then move back home to find a job. I went out on job interviews and got a job pretty easily at a school that I actually wanted to work at and even found an apartment easily with my friend. Things were working out.
3) Have you thought about leaving NYC and heading back to Chicago before this year? Yes I have. My third year in New York, I was missing my family a ton. I had been sick on and off with my Ulcerative Colitis and it was hard being so ill and in so much pain and not having my parents by my side. I also was annoyed with work and the weather here was consistently terrible. I hated walking to and from the train in the rain and was just so irritated all the time. I looked for some jobs at home (kind of half-assed, admittingly) and nothing panned out so I stuck around. I was just going through a hard time and was letting the frustration get the best of me. I'm glad I stuck it out and stayed because I've had some incredible times since then.
4) How is NYC so different than Chicago? NYC has an energy that is unparalleled to any place else. Unless you've experienced it yourself, you may not know what I'm talking about. Sure, Chicago and New York are both big cities, but they both have so many amazing things to offer. I even wrote about the differences on this blog a while back that debated the food, the skyline, the transportation, and a few other things between the two cities. But I think above all, New York just has this vibe that no other city can duplicate and makes it so unique and so incredible. It has been the major reason I have stayed here so long.
5) What is your favorite place in New York City? I would have to say the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir in Central Park and the Little Red Lighthouse up in Inwood. Both of these places are ones that I go to on runs and just never seem to get old to me. I get happy just seeing them and they make me feel grateful to live here.You forget you're in the middle of a vibrant, bustling city when you are at either one and that's part of their charm.
6) What is your favorite food in New York City? This is a hard one because there is so much good food here. And although I've eaten some amazing things here, I'd have to say my favorite is Shake Shack. I am totally a burger and fries girl and this one is just so damn good. (PS there are two in Chicago now and one in the burbs so that could make my transition a bit easier when the time comes.) Also, Levain cookies and (my new favorite) Pressed Juicery Freeze, are on the top of my list as well.
7) What's your favorite thing to do in New York City? It may sound lame to some, but my favorite thing to do here is to wake-up super early for a run and go somewhere that's usually packed during the day and have it all to myself. There's something really special about it. I do that quite often (here and on vacation) and have some amazing pictures from those runs. Having bits of New York City all to me, even for just a few moments is pretty damn special.
8) What would you miss most about New York City? I think the close proximity of everything, yet even though the neighborhoods are so close to each other, each neighborhood is unique to itself and has its own charm. Although the city has millions of people, it is small (It's only 13 miles long and two miles wide). You can get anywhere in the city fairly easily on foot and on train. If I want to go wander around in another neighborhood or run somewhere different, its just an easy train ride and it's a great way to mix things up.
9) What's been the hardest thing for you in New York City? Loneliness. You'd think in a city that has millions upon millions of people that being lonely wouldn't be an issue. Well it is. And it's a huge one for me. I don't have a lot of friends, I have no boyfriend, and my family is very far away from me. This takes a toll on me quite frequently because oftentimes, there are things that I would love to do, but just don't want to do them by myself. As independent as I am, I sometimes wish I had someone here who I could really rely on to be by my side when I need them or just want to do something fun, and not have to do it alone. I don't have this and that is very hard for me.
10) Why do you think that you have made it this far in New York City? I think that my go-go-go personality and intensity has made me thrive here because of the fast pace of the city. I like to do things impulsively sometimes and when that is the case, there is always some place to go or something to do, at pretty much any time of day. The options are almost limitless and there is always something new and cool to see. I find things new to me all the time here and that keeps things exciting and interesting which I love. Again, all of this part of the exceptional energy that's here and that I love.
So yeah, if you didn't know these things about me, perhaps you have a little more insight into my feelings on this city. My life has been in New York City for the past twelve years and it's still very up in the air if my life will continue here or in Chicago. Aside from moving here in the first place, this is one of the hardest decisions of my life which is why it's taking me so long to make it. Until then, I am most def enjoying every aspect of the city right now in case this is my last go-around. Spring is finally (I hope) in the air and I plan to take advantage of the nice weather and the school year winding down. I hope to have more clarity on my decision in the upcoming weeks, but as this lucky number 12 anniversary comes and goes, it may just be the right number to leave on.