Five years ago today I hugged my best friends goodbye and drove away from CITYterm to JFK. It was technically the first time I'd *left* New York for more than a few weeks, and I had no way of knowing if I'd live here again anytime soon. i was 17 and about to start senior year of high school. ugh. the thought of that makes me shiver.
Thinking back though, I think that where I am right now is pretty much exactly where I hoped I'd been. i've lived such a full new york life since i moved back here permanently in August of 2013. I've already been reminiscing about my time here in general since graduation last week, but today I was thinking about through the eyes of the hopeful teenager that loved this city more than she'd ever loved anything.
5 years ago today, I was flying home and crying after a semester of listening to Mason Jennings on the metro north, dancing through subway trains, exploring st. marks place as if it was a secret wonderland, romping through tompkins square park as if it was magical, stepping into some strange cafe called Sidewalk to hear free music, and falling in love with the city through the eyes of the people that literally gave their lives to create it. the innocence my friends and I had was so incredibly pure. I laugh and cringe when I look back on it. I can't regret it. it was pure happiness. the 6 train was our church. astor place was a destination to hang out in. ludlow & rivington was quaint and peaceful. Oh man.
The only thing that could have been better that semester is if I had lived in the city itself - a connection so intense and personal that I almost couldn't fathom it. But now I'm sitting in my brooklyn basement apartment while the city rains outside my open window. I've lived in four apartments here, and this one is actually home.
I wish I could tell myself back then to not be so sad, but I can't because I didn't know if I'd return to the city so soon. If I hadn't gotten into NYU I would probably have moved to a different city for college. And only just now, after graduation, would I be moving back. Maybe my life would be different and beautiful in wonderful ways and I would be even happier than I am now if I had done that. But I can't imagine that. This city made me full. The sometimes-frightening truths of the city made me into a real person. I didn't exist before I experienced them.
Freshman year I walked into a restaurant and got a job as a waitress and grew up within the span of 8 months more than I could have in any sort of college environment. Three years later and most of my life revolves around the things I learned there and the people I met there. Where would i be at a different college without Sidewalk?
I came to NYU as a procrastinating freshman who loved to edit movies and loved new york and left as a motivated honors student with a fierce work ethic, a clear idea of what I hope to encounter next, and a solid path to get there. I still love this city deeply but sometimes I worry that I forget. But as long as I continue learning I have nothing to worry about. As long as I utilize every full day and always return home late at night after I've achieved something special in my day, it's all going to be okay. Sometimes new york and adulthood in general feels like an endless summer because there's always -something- to do and you never need to just go home. I'm so thankful for that. I'm proud of how i've taken advantage of it. and i'm really excited for this summer.
5 years and a few days ago I was riding the hudson line of the metro north with my best friends and listening to the Mason Jennings album i'm listening to right now. We ate cookie dough and talked about Frank Zappa and made movies. I really miss that. We bought harmonicas and tried to play them. Moving back to new york for college would never recreate that and I knew it. I'm so thankful that it brought on even more incredible things. but I won't pretend I don't miss those train rides. Looking out and seeing the flame alight on the trash processing plant at the Ludlow stop. Dark shadowy buildings passing by. A barge in the river. Our faces pressed against the glass.
I just found my last diary entry in my CITYterm journal. I probably wrote this on May 24, 2012: "Perhaps one of the reasons that I love the flame so much is that it doesn't have the capacity to forget. I always become attached to places, for they won't hurt me, or get lost in their new life. Somehow, they'll remember. New York has to remember all of the good times we've had."
I'm glad I remember today. Onward...