Is the feeling of home, of belonging important to you? I spent my childhood chasing that feeling. I romanticized my parent’s upbringings-one in a city, one in a coal mining town, neither moved until they were at least in college, surrounded by extended family and friends they knew their whole lives. My high school was my 8th school, and the amount of travel provided me with some pretty extraordinary experiences, but I guess the grass is always greener. I wanted to be more than the new girl, I wanted to be known.
When I first traveled to New York City I was as excited as every other tourist. I was 17 and the unusual circumstances surrounding my upbringing meant that I’d been to Hong Kong, Rome, Sydney, Australia, lived in Wellington, New Zealand before making it to the Big Apple. Something extraordinary happened during the visit (and I mean more extraordinary than getting the flu during the first act of Tommy and spending an hour and a half barfing in the theater bathroom). I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, it felt like home. New York City became the center of my universe and getting there was the only option.
During the decade I lived there it felt right, it felt permanent. Every time we left the city I’d be accompanied by melancholy, a weight on my chest until we got back and I was able to take a full breath again. When Z and I got married it was with the understanding that I wanted to stay in the city for the rest of my life, I wanted to raise any possible kids there, I wanted to be the old lady with the push cart waddling around. Hell, I already had the push cart. That thing rocked for trips to the grocery store.
After September 11th of 2001 I was even more resolved to stay forever. No one was going to scare me away from my home. But over the next few years Z became miserable in the city. It started suffocating him, he wanted to escape. Our marriage was a mess, he didn’t want that anymore either. He got into RISD for grad school and I was faced with a decision. Leave the city that was my home or save my marriage. New York was my security blanket, my marriage was awful, and I didn’t know if it was even possible to save it. I made the right choice. I became a different person, one who doesn’t need a specific place to be happy. But I miss New York every day.
I wanted to write about our anniversary, but on September 11th it’s hard to wrap my brain around anything but that day. So the post about Z and me can wait. Z is the great love of my life. But New York is a close second. If we ever hit the lottery (unlikely being we don’t play the lottery) the first thing I’ll do is buy an apartment there. If I have to choose, I choose Z. It sure would be awesome not to have to choose at all, though.
I still don’t know how to feel on this day. Angry. Helpless. Stupid. Insignificant. Lucky. The one emotion that makes sense is my love for the city. It’s a great place, no…it’s the best place. It owns a pretty big chunk of my heart.