I can’t really tell you the first time I really wanted to live in New York. For as long as I can remember, it just seemed to me that everything was here.
As a kid, I would look up at the stars and pretend they were city lights. If I was having a particularly difficult day, I would squeeze my eyes shut and count to ten, sure that if I wished hard enough I would open them to my own little downtown studio apartment.
In high school, I plotted and schemed, trying to find a way to get me there for college. But unfortunately the rumors are true, and New York is expensive (side note: someone tried to get me to pay $9 for one Cliff bar last week… NINE DOLLARS!), and I was sentenced another four years in a city that was too small for my dreams.
And now I’m here. I’m sitting in a local coffee shop in Upper Manhattan, looking out at the city, and it’s exactly how I always imagined it would be.
When I first came to Manhattan almost two months ago, the city felt familiar in a way that I can’t really explain. I waited to be overwhelmed by the gut-wrenching homesickness that plagued me when I left home for college to set in. But it never did.
I wake up and do typical New Yorker things: I always take my backpack off on the subway, I eat dollar pizza, huff along the sidewalks when tourists are walking too slowly, I stare lovingly at bodega cats, and pretend not to notice when salesmen shove flyers in my face.
New York City feels like coming home. And it’s because of this that I can not explain to you why I sit perfectly content in the greatest city in the world crying to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” thinking about how my old Jeep feels driving down dirt roads and walking into my grandparent’s house on summer evenings to the smell of my favorite pizza (I know, New York pizza isn’t my favorite I’m the worst New Yorker ever).
The only conclusion I can come to is that I fiercely and wholly belong to both places. I’ve always felt slightly like a walking contradiction, so I guess this is actually quite fitting. And who’s to say that I can’t be the girl who does both? I can boldly walk across a busy street without a walk signal and still say “ope!” when I bump into someone on the subway.
Home for me is Lake Michigan at sunset and Manhattan in the morning. It’s the sound of rain on a tin roof and a breezy walk by the Hudson River. It’s Main Street Pizza for dinner and a deli bagel for breakfast. A winding dirt road and Fifth Avenue.
In a world where “home” is a foreign feeling, how lucky am I to have two?