4am is an excellent time to write beautiful sentences in one’s head, hoping that they will stay there until the morning so that you can jot them down. Of course they never do, and I never learn my lesson. But anyway, I had a whole post typed up in my head last night while nursing Luna back to sleep again around 4am, but it has all been lost to oblivion, or at least the back of my mind until next time. Maybe one day I will learn to keep a notepad under my pillow, or will type phrases into my phone… Maybe.
I have now officially lived in NYC for 10 years this month. I will always remember that day I landed here, came through Immigration with my temporary work visa, jumped in a cab with my 2 suitcases and 1 box and stared at the skyline as it came into view. And that feeling that I had finally arrived somewhere that I could call home again. During those first few weeks I discovered a place so special that it would steal my heart time and time again, even now after all these years. A place where you can find anything, where anything goes, and where you can really do anything that you put your mind to. Of course there have been many times that I have wanted to leave, run away, find a new place to call home, but I have never been able to actually do it. Even today, with another child on the way, still living in a 1 bedroom apartment because anything else is just too expensive, I find it hard to imagine living anywhere else but NYC.
We still make it work, we budget, live on less money, and we are still able to make it by, even at the moment when I am only freelancing. It has come to the point that we wonder when it’s not going to be worth it anymore, the hustle and the constant trying to make ends meet. I do dream of having a little house with a back yard that the kids can play in. A little area where I can drink my tea in the morning, plant some flowers, herbs and vegetables and have BBQs all year round. But at the same time neither of us want to have to drive anywhere, but I suppose that’s something we will have to get past once, if, we leave the city.
Because New York City is, and will always be, home to me. From the first night in that little apartment on Rivington and Clinton, via Spanish Harlem, the West Village, Bushwick and finally Flushing, I’ve always felt that there will always be something for me here. In 10 years out of the 37 in my life there has been a lot of time to make many, many memories. So many friends, some who have become part of my family, others who have drifted away along the way, and some who have sadly left us too soon, hopefully jamming together in the stars, their souls shining away in the sky. There have been really bad times and really dark moments, and amazing periods where happiness prevails. There have been moments I would rather not remember and others that I will relive again and again.
The city changes rapidly, as any large and prosperous city tends to do, often to the distress of those living there. Rents go up every year, old buildings go down and new, uninteresting, structures take their place. People become tired of the hustle and move away for their sanity, their bank account, their health. Other people move in, everything continues to move, but it’s never the same as it was the year before or the year before that. We hold on to our memories of the “good times”, and hope that they won’t all be crushed by bulldozers and debris. But as long as the NYC we lived and live in stays active in our minds, thoughts and dreams it will never really disappear. Everyone moves here for a reason, and this city tends to give us hope that we can fulfill whatever hope and dream we had when we came. Or at least help us realize why we even ended up here in the first place.
When the winter finally disappears with those last cool, biting winds in April and spring shows its wonderful true colours, there is always an element of hope in my heart that I can make work through one more year, that I won’t have to leave just yet. One more summer on the beach, one more autumn watching the leaves turn all the colours of the harvest rainbow, maybe even one more blizzard… The idea of leaving this city breaks my heart, but the idea of staying seems more and more difficult.
I love walking through the streets with Luna, watching the trees bloom and the blossom start to fall to the ground, covering the sidewalks with pink and white for a while, leaves budding green, ready to open now that the frost, ice and snow has really gone for a while. The thermometer finally moves above 60 and windows are left open day and night to let the air in, air that will soon become muggy and humid and sweaty. I love how the city is in constant movement, never silent, always talking, whispering, shouting. But I also miss being woken up to the sounds of birds singing and nothing else. I think there will always be this dichotomy within me, the city and the countryside, always missing one or the other. But NYC has been the one place that stole my heart and will never return it. I’m not nostalgic for the NYC of 10 years ago, or that of 8 years ago, I have wonderful memories of those times and miss a lot of things about them, mainly friends and establishments and the silly antics I used to get up to in those days. I miss many things about the NYC of before, but this city is still NYC and will always be, and I have learnt to adapt to the changes while documenting them for myself, and keeping those parts that don’t exist anymore alive in my heart.
All I really want to say is that I still love this city, my home, and always will. One day we will leave, and as a family continue our lives elsewhere, and this is no longer a maybe, but a certainty, but there will always be part of my heart here in the city. Unless we can find an affordable house not far from the beach with a good school and not a 2 hour commute or car drive from the city… One can always dream, no? Here’s to 10 years and however many more there will be.
You are an extraordinary place NYC.
All photos were taken by me over the past 10 years. I have albums and albums of places and people on my Flickr HERE. Here are a few of my favourites: