Thoughts on Leaving New York

It’s funny to me how Medium instructs us on the homepage to tell our stories. Although one might think that it is obvious to most people that the reason we as a species write is to share our stories, the concept of storytelling is manifold to me. Why do I have a story? Why do you? Why do we feel compelled to share with strangers and loved ones alike the linear string of ideas that makes a person a self? I know that I have always wanted to write. But most days when I see an empty page, the fear of writing the wrong words silences me.

For me the struggle to take this leap has been wrought with doubt. If I don’t know who I am or why I act as I do, what entity grants me the agency to write. But now, as I prepare to leave New York City, the city that in many ways was the mother that never wanted me to be anyone other than the woman I am, the lover that never feared my anguish, and the friend that always knew just what I needed to hear in moments of uncertainty, I know what my story is — it is the one story that we as a species keep searching for original ways to tell. A story that is most mystical in its commonness — the quest to love.

At Columbia I studied politics and literature. The two seem like disparate forces — one of subjective experience and competing narratives, the other a space of romance and democracy — but the truth is just like you are not sure which description is better suited for those particular areas of knowledge, I can say that my studies have fueled more questions than answers and that space of uncertainty has provided me with context to fourteen years of living in a beautiful mindfuck of a town. I love you New York. But, that love is a selfish one — like how Vronsky loved Anna or Locke loved property rights — I have loved you for the sunny days and the nights on rooftops talking til the words I say are dreamy contortions bewitching me ( and occasionally a listener or two). I love you New York because you never asked me more from me than my surrender to the absurdity of the present. I love you like the Greeks loved their myths and battles, because you made my dreams magic.

And best of all, I love you New York, because you taught me that why we write, why we assemble for justice, and why we talk through the night is not without one universal purpose; you taught me on your streets without alleys, that the only truth is love, and that is why I must leave. This city has shown me what I love. It has transformed me from a youth where I only knew how to judge and dismiss, to a place where I have convictions rooted in my deepest affections.

But to love, to truly love, desiring is not enough. I cannot love my community if I am unwilling to fight for it. I cannot love my friends with stories and stories alone. Rhetoric isn’t enough. Love’s source is not fanciful words or yearnings; it is strength and will. I leave you New York to cultivate my will. This is the journey that awaits me in North Carolina. I feel blessed to have been shown the possibility of the life that I can have with diligence and grace. I am also afraid. What if that fear that has always whispered in my ear, you are not worthy, you cannot be…what if that fear hinders me from becoming the woman who not only knows love but acts on it? I suppose only I can make that choice — to fight and not relegate my dreams to myth, to not pine over desire but slowly and diligently work towards its fulfillment. New York you taught me the meaning of freedom; now, I must earn it.

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