When you leave New York, you want to appear as if it’s not impacting you as much as it actually is. Well, that’s what I did. I hate the cliches of leaving New York, as if there is nothing worth exploring west of the Manhattan border. So I pulled off this facade of, “I’m sad and relieved to leave.” In reality, inside, the never-aging adolescent in me was on the floor, face down, weeping and slapping the floor.
I suppose 12 days outside of New York should bring me some epiphanies.
The logistical ones:
you can turn right on red outside of New York
when you don’t turn on red – even when you’re allowed – people DON’T honk at you
customer service workers are straight up FRIENDLY, happy folks
you don’t have to pay for parking
groceries are AT LEAST 20% cheaper
Ohio has all the space to make you happy if you’ve been feeling cramped
The main epiphany is that the struggle to leave New York was not about leaving New York. It masked itself in a frenzy of grief-stricken cries over leaving NYC, but the truth of the matter is it’s not about New York. It was about growing up, growing FURTHER up than I wanted to. It was about being forced to grow up and choose something that perfectly fit the family I created but was not what I wanted for myself individually. That kind of choice, that kind of growing up is painful. It is one that takes time to find the joy, it is the kind that most cannot understand, particularly single, NYC dependent-on-parents-without-dependents kinds of people. My New York friends tried to frame this decision like it needed tweaking. No, it didn’t need tweaking, or finding a way to reverse the decision I made. Some decisions are made somberly, knowing that the good feelings won’t automatically surface. That’s parenthood; doing and being the thing you know is best for everyone else in moments when it’s not about you. Uncentralizing myself – as a writer, nonetheless – is difficult. Monstrously so.
I was relieved to leave New York, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it. But wanting it doesn’t mean that I want it more than what I want for my family: sanity, a present mother, a soulful father, more biological family who can’t wait to see you, love, love, love, love that is not rushed.
New York will be frequently visited and will always be home in many ways. I’ve heard that people go to the city for their dreams and to find themselves. That might be true for some, but, for me, it was leaving New York that took the strength and effort to realize that I had grown up, yes, but it was time to grow up even more. It was time to accept that my life had grown too big for the Big Apple and I needed something different.
Twelve days in Columbus, Ohio.
Like I said, Ohio has a lot of space.