I feel uncertain which day I should celebrate my anniversary since it took me two days to move, but around two years ago, on the 8th and the 9th of March, I swam my way out of my old life and into this crazy adventure. And I really mean swam- it was a very soggy occasion as I said farewell to everyone I knew and set out for New York City. I remember that moment as if it was last week, as Abby and I drove across Staten Island, blasting “Welcome to New York. It’s been waiting for you!” and singing along, like the most cliche white girls. I settled into my windowless airbnb while I searched for a place to live before my three weeks ran out, and thought to myself, “What have I done, sweet Jesus, what have I done?”
I still wonder that.
People often ask me why I moved here, and even with two years of practice, I don’t quite know how to reply. “Adventure,” I usually say, which is true. My unquenchable thirst for adventure has gotten me into a lot of things and I wouldn’t trade most of them for a more settled and secure life, but I think the move here has been the most hair-whitening one yet. Still, that’s not all it is. There’s this certainty about New York City, this knowing that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be at this time, and that smooths out a lot of the bumps of living here; it helps me deal with carting my laundry four blocks and trains that never do what they’re supposed to and the million wads of gum on the subway floors and the firetrucks which constantly roar past my window.
This photo was a day or two after I came, on the first bus ride. I love it, because if you were only able to see my eyes, (since toddlerhood, my eyes have disappeared when I laugh), you could see that they are starry and full of dreams, and a little bit agog at the fact that I actually did it. I still feel a little agog, from time to time.
Good Lord, what a ride it has been. The first year was so uncomfortable and wonderful as I figured out my new world. I had to learn the idiosyncrasies of new roommates, figure out my church situation, learn the hard way that the job I moved here for was a lemon (I knew it was a risk when I took it), and figure out for myself which is the best chocolate chip cookie in the city. And just as I was settled into a nice sort of rhythm and was making a couple friends, along came March, 2020, and everything turned on its head once again. Suddenly I was mostly out of work for a while and stuck in North Carolina while NYC reeled under the impact of the pandemic, and I felt a million miles away. I’ve had to learn all over again how to handle my life in the city in the past year, and to make the understatement of the year, it’s been rather challenging. I knew life in the city would be difficult, but for some reason, I forgot to factor in the possibility of a global pandemic. Silly me.
Nevertheless, here we are, perhaps a bit dull-eyed and saggy-tailed, but hanging in there. Life continues, global pandemic or no, and along with the rest of the city, I’m still trying to learn how to make the best of it. Rent still has to be paid, long days at work still have to be sat through, pies still have to be baked, and I’m leaning into my new routines for the foreseeable future. I’m certain this last year in NYC has taught me many things, although I don’t have enough distance to see what they are yet, and I am just as certain that I will shed many tears of joy once life returns to normal again, whatever that may be.
So what have I been up to?
Well, let’s tackle the most important thing first. I know I have told you about this before, but how could I write a li’l recap of my life without mentioning my Year Of Pie? I have been baking (and consequently eating, but let’s not dwell on that) So Much Pie. It’s wonderful. So far I have made:
- Mixed berry pie with a lattice top, my first try at that
- Coconut cream pie which my roommate didn’t like, so more for me
- Whoopie pies, because the world never contains enough of them
- Peanut butter pie, one of my true loves in life
- French silk pie with an Oreo crust, possibly the best thing I have ever baked in my life
- Shoofly pie from a NYT recipe, which was definitely not Amish but still fairly tasty
- Raisin cream pie with a meringue top, also my first try at that
I cannot tell you how delicious the raisin cream pie is, which is still in my fridge. When I’m not eating it, I’m daydreaming about it. The meringue burned on one side and stayed raw on the other, thanks to my unwieldy oven which is seventy years old or so, so I torched it as best I could with my tiny cigarette lighter (makes mental note to put kitchen torch on birthday wish list) and boy, is it delicious. Happily one roommate doesn’t like raisins, so again, more for me!
I’ve been doing some museum hopping as well- expanding my intellect and pretending I’m scholarly and whatnot. I’ve gone to the Museum of Natural History twice to gape at the blue whale and admire the deciduous forest and the antelope, and I spent one glorious day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which everyone should get to do at least once in their life. I plan to live there this summer when it’s too hot to be outside. With my NYC ID which I earned through sweat and tears, I can pay what I wish at the door, which is precisely what I wanted it for. Anyway, the Met is far too vast for one day or even three, and I always wish for the time to set myself in front of my favorite Monet and just stare at it for half an hour straight. This summer… If you ever want to come see me and accompany me there, just let me know. We can enjoy the culture then stuff our faces with gyros from the halal food truck outside.
Finally, I have this Brooklyn friend who is my weekend wind down partner after long work weeks (and boy, have they been long lately!), and we like to hit up various diners and restaurants on Friday or Saturday evenings to discuss the perils of modern dating over burgers and eggs Benedict, then wander the streets and feel glad that we get to live here. Most recently, we’ve been brainstorming about eating our way around the world in NYC. Should we do it? I’m very grateful for a friend or three who have survived the closures of social life and who are usually down for some small adventure.
And that’s my little life these days. Thrilling, isn’t it? Each time a new month rolls around, I feel a sense of relief that we’ve made it one month further on this riotous ride. And on the other hand, occasionally when I’m strolling through the Met or watching people dance in Central Park or admiring the twinkling of the Empire State Building, I still nearly have to pinch myself to believe I get to live here. This really is my home, perplexing and difficult and treacherous and wonderful as it is, and I’m grateful God brought me here.
What a ride it has been. Here’s to the next twenty years!