New York, New York

Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly wealthy — or lazy — I take a cab home to Harlem. Once in a while, we’ll ride up along the east side and I’ll catch a glimpse of a New York I don’t experience. Expensive boutiques, limestone buildings, lavishly-decorated hair salons, old ladies in Chanel suits. It’s oddly comforting to know it’s there, but it’ll never be my stomping grounds.

I’ve lived in New York for almost seven years now. Since I was a wee little lass, I knew I wanted to make this city my home. This was in large part thanks to my dreams of being on Broadway, but I knew that even if those came crashing down — : ( — I’d still want to live here.

I used to be obsessed with Eloise, the little girl with neglectful parents who lived in the Plaza. I would visit the famous hotel for Eloise-themed teas with my aunt. While I was thankful that my parents didn’t abandon me for days on end with an overworked nanny, I was envious of the fictional character’s glamorous New York life. Why couldn’t I have unlimited room service and a little dog named Skipperdee?

For the majority of my birthdays growing up, my mom and I would head to the city for a Broadway show and hotel stay. Those trips only reaffirmed my obsession with the city and I was hell bent on eventually making it my home. Fast forward to the summer before college, when I lived in the city for a few weeks for a musical theater intensive. By that point, there was no other option.

When it finally came time to actually move post college, I wasn’t sure it was a possibility. I had no savings and no magical opportunities popping up for me there. I ended up staying in D.C. for another six months and saving up. I didn’t see moving here as that viable of an option and found myself applying for D.C. jobs. (Most notably, a role at a cat advocacy group!) Thankfully, I didn’t end up getting hired and was free to jump ship. NEW YORK WOULD FINALLY BE MINE!

After living in New York for almost a decade, the passion has diminished exponentially. Encountering bed bugs in 2015 proved to be reason enough for a brief reprieve, but I flew back from Long Beach, C.A. (my mother’s current residence) after only two months. Now, my feelings toward the city are reminiscent of a passionless marriage—I’m in it because I’m used to it, but the fire’s almost out.

Remembering what New York can be—my childhood dreaming, unrealistic portrayals on T.V., visits to neighborhoods I rarely encounter—makes things exciting again, if only for a few minutes. I’m transported back to when I had eyes for no one else and couldn’t imagine ending up in any other city. Sadly, those moments are few and far between.

When I pause to think about it, I can list the merits of New York. There’s 1) culture at your fingertips, 2) delicious food, 3) lots of drag shows, 4) coffee on nearly every corner, and 5) the possibility of adventure at almost every turn. That’s what keeps me here. (That and my friends, apartment, job, attachments, etc, etc). Who knows where I’ll end up in a few years, but for now, I don’t think I’ve squeezed everything I can out of living here. To quote one of my all-time favorite movies, I just hope “the juice was worth the squeeze.”

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