Dear New York,
Recently I had a conversation with a family member, wherein I was expressing one of my greatest worries:
“There’s just so much in the world. How does any one person accomplish everything they want to do? I want to live in so many places…”
His simple response?
“Great. Live in all of them.”
That struck a chord. A small, sharp reverberation, like plucking on a bow string. (Or, to speak in your language — perhaps like a sudden car alarm?)
And I need to thank you, here and now, for adding to that sense of inspiration. I know, New York, that your time is precious, but please: keep reading.
Living here taught me globalization. You’re a rich tapestry of people. Walking through Manhattan, surrounded by tall buildings and cars honking and music blasting from windows and smoke from the food vendors and coins clinking in cups and lights flashing and people laughing and talking and existing. Backgrounds collide in a chaotic symphony of voices; the mind gets dizzy trying to follow the melody.
Thanks to you, my gaze has expanded. I just got back from an international trip and I’m already planning the next one. I sought out a job that involved travel and meeting new people with perspectives far different from my own. And I’m now determined to become bilingual (or, dare I say it, trilingual?)
Before coming to New York, a life of travel wasn’t even on my radar. But now I’ve been here for two years, and if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.
I can make it anywhere.
You showed me my bravery. One fish that willingly jumps from a small pond into a large ocean is brave enough, but to stay in that ocean and thrive? That takes another kind of courage entirely.
And it takes hunger, and fatigue, too. You taught me the true meaning of each of those. You are, if nothing else, a city that builds the very best, one way or another. You have not coddled me. You have honed me, twisting me into a new shape. I arrived a shield; now I’m a weapon. I seek out opportunities; I no longer wait for them. And I have grown hard.
Yet, conversely, that hardness has taught me to remember my softness, and to hold on to it. To be kind, and loyal, and patient. Your big city lights blot out the night sky overhead and, by this point, I had almost forgotten what stars even look like. Maybe that’s why I decided to become my own source of light.
That being said, I’m luckily not the only light to be found. You have many kind souls living here — I was lucky enough to meet and interact and work with many of them. I know this isn’t your forte, but please, respect them. Appreciate them. They’re working so hard to achieve even a sliver of your focus and time.
You were the one, after all, that reminded me to appreciate the things that matter. Leaves rustling in the trees at the park. Smiles and quips with coworkers. Late night laughter with roommates in the living room. Shakespeare in the Park. Mojitos at an outdoor cafe. Dancing. Phone calls home. Ice cream. The lights dimming down at a Broadway show. A lemon lavender pie. Cuddling with a pug. Little bits of pleasure found within the draining routine of work-and-home, work-and-home, work-and-home.
As a book lover, I view life as a series of chapters, and you were definitely one huge, marvelous chapter. You taught me so much. You inspired me to reach further and to be better.
But now I’m ready to turn the page and see what comes next.
Does that mean you’ll never be seen in future chapters? Of course not. Thanks to you, I met people here — people that I care about and deeply respect. They’re people to visit the next time I’m in town for a Broadway show (or just for a slice of pizza — you truly have the best pizza).
So this “Goodbye Letter” has a misleading name, really. It should be something more along the lines of:
See you later, New York.
And thanks for reading,