It's been five years, I still remember the exact place I was standing the moment I decided to move here. I pass by that spot from time-to-time, almost always on accident, but I like to pause and take a moment to remember what it felt like that day. It was miserably hot, I remember feeling a sweaty armpit graze me on the subway, and I thought, "this is what it is like to be a New Yorker, and I want that."
New York is the place where I truly grew up. I learned to stand on my own, make mistakes, more mistakes, and also celebrate small successes. It is the place where I learned to say no, but also to say yes even when it doesn't fit in my best laid plans.
It is a hard place to live. The weather is rarely ideal, it smells bad, there is traffic (both underground and above), it's too crowded, it's expensive, but I would still rather be here than anywhere else.
I was attracted to New York since my very first visit. I always knew I would move here; its magnetic force pulled me in. Ask anyone who lives here, and those who have merely visited, what it is about New York. Almost anyone will say, "I felt an energy there." All of the forces that make it tough to live here, make the people here that much better. New Yorkers have grit, and I like that.
This isn't the type of place that comforts you when things get tough. It trains you to roll with the punches; don't make too many plans, as they will surely get derailed. But, I think, the longer you stay the better you get at it, the less you take it personally when things go wrong. Once you accept the tough stuff as part of the deal, the good things are that much sweeter.
So, here I am five years in, those years were the worst and best of my life so far. And now that I am finally starting to understand this place. Starting to understand that in order for it to give something to you, you have to give something to it. And I am ready for another five years, when I can finally call myself a New Yorker.
// photo from my first trip to NYC over 15 years ago, taken atop the World Trade Center in 2000.