Moving to New York soon
I’ve loved this place in the South for what it was. I spent my twenties here accidentally, moving to the beach after college with my then-girlfriend, and later to the city for a job. Met good people. Slowly replaced who I’d always been with this southern Me. Bought a house even though I was always looking for a way away. I figured I’d live here a year or two. That was seven years ago.
I assimilated but never lost youthful yearning. I took my first trip abroad the year I bought the house. I’d have to count how many times I’ve left since; how many times I drove 7 hours north just to hike the closest mountains; how many times I took a train up the coast. Deep down, I always felt better leaving than coming back.
In truth, one I rarely speak here out of courtesy, I’ve never felt like I fully belonged in this place. Even with great friends, partners, lovers, and neighbors along the way. This place never totally fit me, nor I it. But I still tried to love it for what it was — if anything, so time wouldn’t pass me by.
A place on earth isn’t everything, of course, and more often it’s just a reflection of yourself. It can be fresh one day and terrible the next, depending on your mood. It can be so dull that the grass is always greener elsewhere. But over time, it averages out into a more stable feeling you can trust. Over eight years I’ve realized this place isn’t really bad, it’s just not the place I want or need.
There was always a part of me that I resisted letting go of, for some reason. Maybe it was gut instinct, Past Me knowing what Future Me would need, even if I could never express it. At this point, I still can’t explain it, but I have to trust that path I unknowingly laid for myself.
So I’m heading to New York City. I’ve always missed winter and the change of seasons since leaving Virginia. I want culture and diversity. I’ve loved New York since I first visited as an adult 14 years ago, and every time I’ve gone since. I wanted to live there after college, if nothing else came my way. But unlike then, I finally have a plan and the means now. I’m incredibly fortunate for that — and I have this place in the South, and the people here, to thank for it.
Now, after years of accumulating stuff in a house too big for me, I’m reducing my possessions to only what I need — my desk and chair, a bike and stereo, computer and notebooks, some paintings and books. Whatever fits in a rented 4’x8’ trailer can come, and the rest I’ll get rid of. It’s always how I preferred to live — farther from excess, closer to only what I need. All that travel made this clear to me, and gave me a taste of a more centered life whenever I’d leave my home in the South. Now my everyday environment might match that wide-eyed, uncomplicated traveling mind.
It’s sad to leave everyone I’ve come to love here. Many have become family, and took care of me like their own. These past several years have been full of wonderful things I never would’ve expected — starting with the city I found myself in. But sometimes what you need most, for a time, are the things you don’t expect at all. That was this place, and these people, for me.
At the same time, it’s hard to capture what this moment means, now, starting a new year in a place I’ve longed for, for so long. Making a rare decision that’s entirely my own, and can’t be shaken by any doubt around me. I’m looking forward to the challenge; to growing again as a person; to what unexpected things I’ll find.
I haven’t been this excited or hopeful in a long time.