Living in New York City was a dream come true. While visiting for the first time during college, I instantly knew that it was a place where I wanted to live, work, and create (instead of attending grad school as I was planning). Something about the city excited me and challenged me in a way that I never had experienced before. The pace of the street traffic made me want to go, go, go and seeing hundreds, maybe thousands of people in such a small space looking like they all had somewhere important to go, made me want to have somewhere important to go too. After nearly 4 years of living out my dream, I realize how much of an impact the experience had on me and also why it’s so necessary for me to sacrifice it to pursue the next dream.
Leaving New York City on one of my many trips made me appreciate it that much more. Every single time I’d travel, I’d find some piece of normal life missing. Like, why are all these people walking so slow, don’t they have somewhere to go? Where is the diversity? Why is there so much space in this restaurant? Why am I able to get a full night’s rest? Why are people smiling at me? Where they do that at? Why doesn’t anyone honk their horn? Why is this meal so cheap? Where’re the bodegas, bagel shops, halal, and dollar slices? It’s 2 a.m., why aren’t trains running? WHERE IS ALL OF THE NOISE? The chaos and hustle and busyness became normal. It was life and the life I’d chosen.
But living in New York City wasn’t always as glamorous as the movies or well-posed images on Instagram. Like how working late night after night isn’t mandatory but a part of the culture. How going weeks and months without seeing your friends is just how it is. How spending your entire paycheck on brunch, clothes, and nights out is considered budgeting. How the rent is too damn high… How living with roommates into your single 20s, 30s, 40s, is life as we know it. How smelling anything from fresh bread to human feces is just a matter of turning the corner. How being a practicing Christian is a minority. How there will always be a new goal to
die strive for. How being yelled at/spit on/thrown up on by a crazy person on the streets is a right of passage. How you thank God you don’t have to go to work when the snow is out of control. How being forced to move out of your apartment at a moment’s notice is a crisis. How a subway delay is a perfect excuse for any occasion. How having too much to do and no time at all is a challenge in prioritizing and not at all a way out. How working your a&$ off is the only way to ensure success. It was a tough life but the life I’d chosen.
And living in New York City (ahem, Brooklyn) was so much more than all of that. It was wanting to know every inch of the city without a map. It was watching fashion trends changing with the seasons in Soho. It was “the best pizza in town” and a walk across Central Park or Madison Square Park or the Brooklyn Bridge or Bryant Park or anywhere with a path and people to watch. It was planning to go to the Whitney or the Neue Galerie or the 9/11 Museum but never making it because there was always something new and next that came up (or it was closed on a Tuesday). It was playing soccer at night on Pier 5 with the best vantage point in the world. It was Sunday lunch every week to build community with church folks. It was walking through Brooklyn Heights wondering how much money it would take to even think about living in a brownstone like that. It was stepping outside and feeling small and big at the same time. And rooftop happy hours with clients and coworkers and looooooooooooong nights out with friends. And church in a movie theater. And making the uptown trip to Upper East, West and Harlem to hang out with friends but spending the quiet weekends exploring Park Slope solo. And morning workouts in Grand Army Plaza. And energy at all hours of the night and day and in between. And having the confidence to make it anywhere. It was exactly the life I needed from 23 to 27 and it was the life I’d chosen.
My last week in NY 😦
Moving out of New York is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Why would I give all of this up (yes, the good and the bad, the opportunity)? Honestly, I’m not sure. There’s always been a small voice inside of me that guides my direction and excites me to turn front, back, side to side in my life and this existed well before moving to NYC. Actually, it was the same voice that told me to move to NYC in the first place. So when it hinted that it was time for me to move on, I listened. I can’t say that I have a plan for what’s next, but I know that moving out was the necessary step in the right direction. While my small hometown in Texas that I’m returning to taught me how to dream, NYC taught me how to go after a dream with everything I’ve got. To the city I’d chosen and am now choosing to leave – goodbye!
Have you made a big move recently? What was the hardest part about the transition?
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4 comments on “Bye, NYC”
loveddddd reading this post and loved that our paths crossed in NYC. excited to see what’s next for you, Akua!
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Thank you, Evelynn!
Wow. Great story I’ve always admired your driven inner self & ultimately that’s all that matters. So proud of you to live reality-test your dreams but not so proud to recognize it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Home is always good.
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