not never leaving new york

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When I moved to New York, I said I would never leave. I was entranced by the people, the places, and the things being done.  It’s a city where you can avoid boredom, where you can spend a whole day people watching, where you can live spontaneously. I believed the old adage, if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. I imagined myself as one of the old New York women I saw on the street, wizened and with a touch (or appropriate heaping) of cynicism.  

Now, I don’t think my claim of never leaving is necessarily true. At the very least, I no longer say “never.” Whether this is due to a certain disillusionment around this city, or symptomatic of a new kind of mindset I’m trying to adopt, I’m not totally sure. But I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. 

So often, things in life don’t go as planned. As someone that has historically been a planner, this has not always been an enjoyable fact of life. I think in the last year, leading up in particular to the past few months, I have rebelled against that in the completely appropiate (read: illogical) way of planning more on things that can’t really be planned, and then inevitably incurring added stress and anxiety. I developed the talent of taking the simplest of things, such as dinner, and making them representative of something so much larger when that thing could, simply, just be dinner. Somewhere along the way, I realized the thoughts I was thinking to try and make myself feel better were in fact making me feel worse. So I tried to adjust. I knew I wouldn’t be able to completely change my natural inclination towards some points of certainty, but that I could very much shift my perspective to a more productive, less stress-inducing one. 

I was texting with a friend this weekend about a situation I’ve found myself in (~ cryptic ~), and I said: “Ok! I have had my daily thoughts on this. I know I can keep going on forever but I’m really working on compartmentalizing (in a healthy way) and not letting something I can’t control take over my thoughts.” Her response: “Exactly. What ya gonna do. Nothing right this second.”And she was, as she usually is, right. This is not to say forward thinking is bad; just that, there is  so much out of our control, and it is hardly productive to spend too much energy on those things. Whether I will always live in New York is, broadly, one of those things.

Yesterday, I walked home with my friend Eva who had recently expressed annoyance with New York. “I’m leaving,” she told me. We were on 2nd street, headed East, and we passed one of the many community gardens in the East Village. There was a crowd inside, so we paused, curious, at the entrance, and listened to the jazz players and respectful hush among this gathering of strangers. When we left, Eva made a noise and I couldn’t help but smile knowingly. “Ok, maybe I’m not leaving just yet,” she said. 

This month marks my fourth year in this city. Rather than imposing an absolute, I’m trying to live as if I am both leaving and not leaving. And addressing my shifting thoughts around New York has helped me as I address how much else in my life is shifting; a lot is up in the air, so little is certain, and most things I can’t predict. I might leave New York in the next few years; I might never leave. But for now, I am here. 


an unplanned weekend

I have absolutely no plans this weekend.

I was supposed to go to DC and visit my friend Gaby but, through a series of so-unfortunate-they're-almost laughable events (a story for another time), I had to reschedule for mid-September. 

And so — my weekend is completely free. 

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It is both liberating and strange; over the past few months, I have tried to have at least a few things to do each weekend. The spring was largely about distraction, and keeping myself busy; the summer was circumstantially busy, spending time with friends and loved ones. This is the first time, in a long time, that I have no plans Friday through Saturday. 

Last weekend, my Saturday was, partially, spontaneous: I bought paint supplies with a friend in the morning, and helped him carry a massive canvas home. After that, I had planned on heading home and playing with my own new paints when one of my best friends texted me. We grabbed lunch at a ramen spot in the village, caught up, and got some iced coffee to finish off the afternoon. 

After I said goodbye to her I walked home, and for the first time in a long time, looked up at the buildings around me, the ones I walk by everyday. I felt present. Getting lunch with Hannah was delightful; it was the perfect reminder that the best plans are sometimes the ones that weren't planned to begin with. 

A similar sentiment found its way into my mind on Monday. At a team offsite, a woman working at The Wing told us (when we apologized for making things complicated) that it was all ok: we showed up. All we needed to do was be present. 

Over the past five months, I've spent so long keeping myself distracted, always saying I was busy when people asked how I was and avoiding the thoughts I didn't want to think (but would think anyway), that I've forgotten what it's like to take things moment by moment. There is a beauty in that, in being present, in letting myself think and feel and just live. Even if living, for that day, means reading all day in the park. Or watching Harry Potter. Or going out with friends. Or painting a painting that turns out terrible.

For the first time in a long time, I'm not scrambling to make some kind of plan. I'm looking forward to waking up and seeing what happens. Maybe this weekend will be full of spontaneous occasions. And maybe it won't. And either way, that's ok.

 

a beach & brooklyn weekend

It was another full weekend, in the best kind of way. 

Saturday, I spent most of the day at the beach with a handful of friends. I love New York City but sometimes the best sight is the skyline in the background. (The feeling of being out of the city has made me even more excited for my trip to London — I plan on completely unplugging and enjoying my vacation).

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I grew up by the beach and sometimes I forget how nice it is to be so close to the ocean, to jump into a car and spend a few hours in the sun and the salt. It's easy to take something for granted when you get used to it. 

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Besides getting terribly sunburnt (and I even put on sunscreen...twice) the beach day was very fun. The weather was perfect, the company was even better, and the ocean was chilly, but refreshing. Saturday finished with a friend's housewarming where my friends tried to draw smiley faces in my sunburn. 

Today, a friend and I walked across the Williamsburg bridge and explored the new Domino park that recently opened up there. It was hot but the view was of the city was worth it.

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We grabbed lunch at an interesting restaurant called Marlow & Sons (where I tried to convince him to try oysters, but to no avail) before grabbing ice cream at Odd Fellows. Somehow we managed to find the energy to also walk back across the Williamsburg bridge and I've been relaxing (and slathering aloe on my sunburn) since. 

It was a busy weekend, but the low-key kind of busy that I often love my weekends to be.