Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One year, one love: New York

I moved to New York one year ago today. I brought with me two suitcases, a computer bag, a tote, some goals, some dreams and one undying love for the city that had called to me for years. Since that day, I have gained a lot, and lost just as much. I thought I knew who I was when I moved up, but I did not. I thought I had a true love in my life when I came, but I was mistaken about where that love resided. I was right that I had no idea what I was getting myself into by moving here, but I could not have known just how true that was. Here, a month-by-month recap of 2009, one of the hardest and most amazing years of my life, inside and out.

I lived with Z for a week and a half before I found my own place on Craigslist and moved in. C was in town for a week or so and we bummed around the city a lot. One night I heard a cat crying outside my Harlem window and went outside in the freezing cold to try to save it, but to no avail. I spent $500 at Bed, Bath & Beyond to stock up my apartment. I interviewed for a good number of jobs and internships. I went to DC to see my LDR boyfriend A and to go to Obama's inauguration. We got into a big fight - A and I, not Obama and I - in which he threatened me physically. I went back to NYC and broke up with him. I started a part-time unpaid internship at a website for a national women's magazine.

A came to NYC unannounced to profess his undying love for me. We got back together, and my friends were not happy about it or particularly supportive. I was still interning part-time and applying for jobs the rest of the time. I hunted for and finally found a chair to spruce up my apartment a bit. Z and I went to fashion week, which was mostly underwhelming. I was pretty depressed for a while because of the job market. I explored Harlem and started cooking myself real meals, and I got a gym membership.

I got snowed in with A in DC. We built a snowman and had snowball fights and made a few of the sweetest memories I have to date. I went back to NYC and started another unpaid blogging internship where I wrote about health and relationships and sex.  The Harlem Singing Man first showed up. I went home to the South for the first time since I had moved up, and visited Oxford while I was down there to find that everything and nothing had changed. I got offered and started my first paid full-time internship at a regional magazine company. I quit my other two internships. My friend E came to visit from Alabama.

I went to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival and to see A. I was really in love with him at this point. Then he came to visit NYC and something felt off so I decided to take a week off from him, before breaking up with him for the second time. My internship was going really well and I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be. We had our first picnic in Central Park to kick off summer early. Everything was blooming.

My internship chugged along and I was stressed at times but I liked all the people I worked with and I was getting to write so I was really happy. Z and I went to my first official magazine party of the summer, and as we were walking through Times Square afterward I dropped my phone and the screen cracked, and my heart along with it. I bought an amazing backless vintage swimsuit which I wore with leggings to another magazine party. I saw my first psychic on the street, who told me A was my soulmate, so then I got drunk* at happy hour one Saturday and hopped on the Chinatown bus to DC, with my friends' support in tow, to profess my undying love for him again. When I got back to the city, I was offered my first full-time-with-benefits position in New York at the same magazine company where I was interning. I was ecstatic in every sense of the word.

A came to NYC for Mississippi in the Park, where he finally met Z and J after months of not meeting them. It rained and we frolicked and laughed. I started my new job and was taking well to it. Michael Jackson died and I was really upset by it because he helped define a good chunk of my childhood. Z and I saw Beyoncé in concert. It was epic. My Lady Gaga obsession was just budding.

I went to DC for A's and my one-year anniversary the weekend of July 4th. We rode roller coasters and cried and watched fireworks, and then he dropped a bomb on me. And not the good kind. I came back to NYC and lost a couple nights' sleep before having a minor meltdown and deciding that I had finally, truly lost sight of who I was. He broke up with me.  I got a new, smaller bed for my room, but held out on buying an air conditioner. I discovered a big public pool near my apartment that changed my life. I danced in a fountain with Z. Started drinking a lot and living the young New York life I had always wanted. Went home to the South for a few days.

I got an air conditioner for my room after one especially terrible night of sweating. A and I still talked sometimes, and he told me he wanted to get back together. I said no because it didn't feel right. My Lady Gaga obsession grew into full-blown worship. I continued running around New York drunk and going out all the time. Z and I saw Britney in concert. I told A that I wanted to get back together, and he told me he didn't love me the way he used to anymore. I started blogging a lot more, honing what might loosely be referred to as my craft.

I went to the first Effable Arts show to support J and her amazing photograpy. Was inspired by all the young artists and fauxsted a Lady Gaga dance party at a gay bar in Hell's Kitchen. Danced on booths and tables in windows. Found one of three straight guys in the bar and kissed him on the steps of a hostel. He was British. Decided I wanted a Lady Gaga tattoo. Struck up an online friendship with one of A's close guy friends, who provided some enlightening insight. Z and I went to a bizarre launch party for Keith Lissner's new line. I got an amazing new dress that I wore to yet another magazine party. I started online dating and went to a quiet party for the first time by myself. I wrote my first guest blog post. A group of friends and I went on a Five Borough Pub Crawl that took an entire Sunday and was epic. I went to my first NYC doctor for a physical and everything was great. I felt invincible.

I started blogging, like, a lot. I went to DC for the National Equality March and did not contact A, which I considered a victory. I also stood ten feet away from Lady Gaga as she gave her speech, which I considered an even greater victory. I did my first blog swap. Z started filming video of our lives. My parents came to visit, their first trip to the city. A contacted me wanting to catch up, and I told him no. J had her first photo show in Brooklyn. I dropped my iPhone into the subway tracks and went down to get it, then I wrote a blog post about it, on which I then based a play. I went to my first real blogger convention. I learned that fall in New York is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I found out that Gaga would be performing in NYC on my birthday. HLLWN 2009 happened, and was a total shitshow.

I started to feel tired. I got switched to a different magazine at work and it was really busy and stressful. I worked on my play some more and sent in my final draft. I talked to A and he told me he was totally over me. He e-mailed me a couple weeks later announcing that he was removing all our photos from facebook. I did not respond. I went out one Saturday night and made some bad decisions and had the worst Sunday of my life the next day. I started to feel depressed and empty. I was happy to leave the city to go see C in Chicago for Thanksgiving. We went to museums and watched theater and comedy improv and listened to bad hip-hop music. In the Chicago airport, I wrote a list of the things I still knew about myself, because I was having trouble remembering. I celebrated the first birthday of my dear blog.

I got Blogger's Blog of Note award. I cried at my desk. It felt like the first really good thing that had happened in a while. Christmas exploded in the city. I discovered that it was the second-most beautiful time of the year. I still felt depressed and exhausted, like I was walking around in a cloud. New York and I were not getting along. I cried a lot when I was by myself. I convinced myself that I still loved A because I missed his smile and his eyes and the way he talked with his hands. I read my first Chuck Klosterman book, fell in love, and started reading my second. I went home for Christmas. I saw a ceremony for a fallen soldier that shook me to my already shaken core. While in town, I chose to see A for the first time in six months. We had coffee and caught up. I told him honestly that he was still the person I loved, and he told me honestly that I was no longer the person he loved. It felt like a bus hit me. I flew back to New York, after e-mailing him to tell him not to contact me anymore. It took nearly a year of heartache, but I finally let him go and am in the process of re-discovering my love for myself.

When my plane landed a year ago, I was still too young to have any concept of looking back. My eyes were planted firmly forward, and I knew in my heart that New York was what I wanted more than anything. I had fear, but I was not afraid. After about 10 months of deep periods of depression, exultation, loss, joy and loneliness, my heart grew weary, and I found myself too afraid to look forward. I looked forward and thought I saw nothing, which is the scariest feeling I've ever had, so I just decided to look back. I blamed myself for my unhappiness; I blamed putting myself and my dreams before others in my life, and I blamed the city. I looked at the city and saw a place that had stolen my innocence, my courage and, I thought, my heart.

When my plane landed this week, I felt the city come back to me. I now see it again like I saw it in 2008. That piece of my heart that's forever devoted to New York came back to life, and with it came all the other parts of my heart I thought were ruined or gone. I made some mistakes this year, and I hurt some people, but I never once did anything that was not a true expression of how I felt in my heart. I loved with my whole heart, I feared with my whole heart, I learned with my whole heart, and I acted with my whole heart.

This past month, I had actually come to convince myself that I must be unhappy because I was innately not sensitive enough to experience meaningful happiness. But in retrospect, 2009 showed me my favorite thing about myself: I live honestly. No one can ever say I am not genuine and upfront and fearlessly honest about how I think and feel. This honesty dissolved my relationship with someone I loved, because he could not offer me the same sort of honesty in return. But then it enriched my relationship with someone I know I love unconditionally: myself.

Now winter is returning, and I still go out in the freezing cold in my pajamas and boots when I hear cats cry, which they do a lot. I know I can't help them - because most of them won't let people anywhere near them - but still I go, because I think that maybe I will be able to help, just this one time. Because that's who I am. The love in my heart propels me forward, against all odds.

Even if it ain't all it seems, I got a pocket full of dreams,
Baby, I'm from New York...

*I have never consumed one drop of alcohol in my life


  1. Wow, I am amazed u can remember what u have done month by month....Relationships are so hard to get over... Looks like u have had a lot of insight this past year...I asked a friend if she regretted her renewing her relationship w/a h.s. bf and then finding out that he had not changed much from h.s. She told me she didn't that she didn't feel she wasted time... She said she learned from it, learned about herself... Not bitter at all...

  2. I came across your site on Google Blogs and I have to tell you, I am completely envious that you can remember a whole year of what you did! I tried to write that list out for myself so many times. I can't wait to read your blog on the regular now, it looks great.

  3. and after reading your profile - happy one year anniversary in NYC!

  4. This is a great entry. Having someone tell you to your face that they don't love you (even if you don't love them back) is comparable to being hit by a bus.

    There will probably be lots of times when you'll think about that relationship and blame yourself for things out of your control – because it's easy; however, don't forget that you are exquisite and someone will eventually see that.

    Hope NYC is treating you well. I hear it's cold!

  5. I really like this post! It was really interesting to see how you changed and developed as a person in just one year.

  6. Wonderful post. I love your writing and your honesty. This has been a year of INTENSE change and seem to be doing a great job of managing it!

  7. Oh my... I am all glassy eyed after reading this seriously. There are a few things I would like to say.

    A.) From the first day I started reading, I knew I loved your blog. I mean... hello, you love new york as much as I do, how could you not be AMAZING? like, duh.

    B.) "I wrote a list of the things I still knew about myself, because I was having trouble remembering". Holy Shit what a powerful quote.... especially because I have been through this time and time again. knocked me off my proverbial feet.

    c.) You are a strong, amazing woman, who has her head on straight, and knows where she is going in life. I admire you a great deal, you're the kind of woman who is an amazing role model for young girls like my little sister.

    D.) I also worship lady gaga. Not because I'm gay and have to since its in the handbook... but because I genuinely LOVE LOVE LOVE her. like... not in the creepy stalker way... in the tacky die hard good morning america fan type way.

  8. Also this:

    If you havent already take a look at the Video Phone Extended Remix by Beyonce feat. Gaga. It's amazing. I've taken the liberty of finding it for you.

    also, i would listen to the song telephone by Gaga feat. Beyonce.

  9. This is such a great post because it is a year in your life. Ask yourself if you had a choice to have this year just as it is or never have had any of the experiences, would you still do it? I know you would cause you are a brave girl with moxie!!!

  10. Also crushing on Lady Ga Ga. Love her Intellect and her Spirit and her Foxiness, Oh Yes!!

  11. Wow. I knew that I really, really liked this blog, but now I know that I love it. I almost cried reading the line "But then it enriched my relationship with someone I know I love unconditionally: myself". It is rare to read words that are completely poetic yet completely real at the same time. You are an amazing writer. I am truly inspired.

  12. This post has made me feel so much better about returning to NYC. I heart NYC so much!! but I am going through a divorce (just got married 7 months ago). I have been back home in Virginia for the past two months re-evaluating. So I am going back to NYC to move out of "our apartment" and into my girlfriend's apartment; this time I'm roughing it sans the husband. I am having much anxiety about this. Your blog reminds me why I'm taking this risk. There is no place in the world like NEW YORK CITY!! pardon my virtual yelling, but I can't help myself.

  13. This might sound weird coming from someone you've never met, but I just wanted to tell you that I admire you. It's not just that you're a great writer, but it's that you're so honest. It can be scary to realize things about yourself and even say them on paper, much less to friends or family. But you go a step further and say them to the world. That kind of soul baring is terrifying for me, but I really appreciate that you have the balls to do it.

    Maybe it's weird when people quote you back to yourself, but I'm doing it anyway:

    "I looked forward and thought I saw nothing, which is the scariest feeling I've ever had, so I just decided to look back. I blamed myself for my unhappiness; I blamed putting myself and my dreams before others in my life, and I blamed the city. I looked at the city and saw a place that had stolen my innocence, my courage and, I thought, my heart."

    Those sentences summed up a lot of what I've been feeling in this crazy time we call our 20s, and I'm glad to know I'm not alone. Thank you.

    I hope 2010 is great!

  14. Point Break - A Perfect Bar Experience in NYC

    A local friend recommended and took my Cali group to this amazing bar. He said that mostly locals came here so I didn't really know what to expect ambiance wise... but screw it, the view at this bar was absolutely breathtaking! No joke. I felt like a celebrity w/ superstar treatment as the staff are friendly and amazing to say the very least.

    I don't know who the house DJ was but he definitely was playing music right up my alley. It would've been my dream for people to start dancing, but it's all good.

    It's a bit sceney for my taste, but it really didn't bother me much. the bartenders knew their stuff, although their 1st cocktail was a little weak, when he saw i understood cocktails the next 2 were stronger. I also liked that even though the place was really hopping the bartender remembered what i was drinking when i came to order another. (he also understood how good a gin hendricks is, and not to overpower it with the mixer). It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied..try it will love it!! can I forget, they even have a wheel o' shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!!

    We ordered the Veal and Fish Tacos. They were delicious. Mm! We ended up asking for spoons to polish off whatever remained in the platter. (Faux pas? Who cares as long as it gets in my tummy.) The fries were crispy, but not overcooked, just the way that I like them.

    So take in this scene: You walk in to what seems like an overly crowded place, but soon fine an empty table. Time seems to stop and the only indicator of the night moving on is the moon and your brain cells slowly going to bed forever. The music is not to loud and the people around look good, the only thing left for you to do is to enjoy that drink you paid ridiculously low for and laugh at the joke your co-worker just told.

    The vibe of the place just never seems to die out and if you happen to spot some NYC socialite, sports player, or star, don't let it get to you... because for that moment, this night they are no long more important than then you. In fact go up to them and introduce yourself!

    All in all just a great place to meet new people, or just have drinks with people you already know. I've been to numerous bars in the city but i would say this place is just great. Very welcoming staff, very laid back ambiance. I’ve been here twice after my first visit with my Cali group . I would say its worth the every penny you spend!!