I have been back in NYC for almost a year.
New York City is one of those places that everyone knows enough about to think they know the place but really, unless you have called it home, you know nothing. Like seriously. Get out of my face with the movie references and the bad accents. I bleed Brooklyn. Can you say you bleed where you are from?
I have made myself quite at home again in my tiny apartment in South Slope, Brooklyn. I can see the Statue of Liberty from my window. Every morning she greets me as I lazily search for acceptable clothing to wear to work at 6am. She is watching me again as I look down my street and try to figure out where the fuck I put my car. And she disappears from sight as I begin to turn the corner to walk to work since the car is not manifesting itself.
I grew up in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn in the same house for 21 years. I attended both parochial school and the NYC public school system. I have traveled on every single subway train line at least once, but still got my license and, gasp, drove around Manhattan when I was in college on the Upper West Side. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday but I can tell you how to get from China Town to Central Park and back. And there are some places I shopped there that I know I would never find anywhere else. So why the hell did I leave?
I needed to decompress for a time. I needed a few years to regroup. New York was going through a transitional period and so was I. And in that time, we didn’t mix well. I never felt at home; it was like a foreign country when I would visit. Even the people I would visit with felt like aliens. It was a mess. Last year, though, something began to click. New York and I were in love again. I got lost in street fairs, walked streets that I grew up walking on, danced in the park, heard music, smelled diversity, and ate my bacon, egg and cheese from my favorite bagel shop. And it felt the same as it did all those years ago.
There has been nothing but tumultuous bullshit thrown at me since I have been home (see previous blog). But no matter how much I have been tested, I am still so grateful that the stars aligned for me to come home. Because to me, this isn’t a tourist attraction. This isn’t a line from an outdated film from the early 80’s. This isn’t gluten-free. This isn’t the city of dreams. This is my reality.
And I am at home.