I somehow agreed to moving from West Hollywood to New York City with my partner after dating for a whopping 8 months. She’d been accepted to an awesome MBA program in Manhattan and I hated my job, so it worked. Yes, U-Haul’ing, I know… Probably the biggest reason I agreed was that we had agreed to move back to California in two years, after her program ended. You can do anything for two years.
My parents and siblings did not think this was a good idea (I have 4 older, opinionated siblings). This was completely unfamiliar territory for them. Nobody in my family has ever lived outside of California. I know that no parent wants to send their child into a situation without being able to offer some kind of road map. With all of their doubts, I constantly had to act like I’d never been so sure of any decision in my life. I acted like 100% of me wanted to go, but it was probably more like 51%.
I was just scared. I had no idea what I was doing. I mean literally, like the actual process. Like how will we get to our apartment once we arrive with so much luggage? And what about furniture? How will we furnish it and get groceries without a car? Also, I’m directionally challenged. How will i learn to navigate a place that operates so differently from what I know? I hate trains. 3,000 miles is far. I cant just drive home when I’m feeling sick and want my mom to take care of me. Or what if Marnie and I break up? Will I stay there, on my own or move back? What if I can’t find a new job? Or make new friends? What if I regret missing out on everything here, like seeing all of my nieces milestones?
The night before leaving, I was hanging out with my sister talking and squishing stuff anywhere it would fit. I couldn’t focus on anything she was saying, I just felt so nervous. She finally got in my face and with her best older-sister, genuinely concerned look, she asked me if I was scared. I started bawling. I was so insanely far out of my comfort zone. I felt like I was giving up so much by choosing to go. Like everything was starting to speed in one direction and I couldn’t make it stop or even slow it down. I was a ball of emotion from that point. As my mom and sisters drove me to the airport, my sisters were unsually quiet and my mom kept tearing up. She told me about 342 times that it wasn’t to late to change my mind. Seeing her scared for me helped me pull my shit together. I didn’t cry at all the day I was leaving. I wanted to show her that she had absolutely nothing to worry about. Then as soon as her car started to roll away, I had a panic attack (literally).
It was dark when we arrived at the Kalahari, our 400-unit two-tower building and were welcomed by a smiling doorman. We had finally made it! Throughout the process of getting there, I stopped feeling scared, it just all became new and exciting. It was strange to look around knowing that this will all become home for me. We set down our suitcases, one of which contained our temporary blow-up mattress, in the empty apartment and left to explore the neighborhood.
Our first week here was entirely dedicated finding and buying everything that wasn’t worth shipping across the country. We found a bed, lamps, a kitchen table and chairs, a couch and small things, too, like light bulbs and shampoo. Harder than finding all those things, though, was figuring out how to get it all back to our apartment without a car. Cabs, trains, moving services, generous people with cars and Amazon-second-day-delivery all became part of the process.
Okay, I’ve been here for 7 months now and here’s what I’ve learned about NYC so far:
- Cabs tell you if they are full, off duty, or picking-up depending on which light is lit up on top of their car
- If delivery is a possibility – YOU USE IT
- Local trains stop often and are slow and express trains are faster and for farther distances
- Times Square is similar to a less sexual version of Las Vegas
- It is completely normal for organizations here to be over 100 years old
- People connect here in a really beautiful way, partly because they’re forced and I’ve never experienced connections like this in Cali
- If the subway station has a green bulb outside of it, you can buy/refill your card in that station
- If a town-car (aka a gypsy cab) offers to drive you to your destination, negotiate the price BEFORE you get in
- There never needs to be a sober driver
- You can get any food you want delivered at 4 a. m. (extremely dangerous)