I moved to NYC Labor Day weekend in 2010 with 5 suitcases, my pup, and my eyes wide for an adventure. I was 21, a year out of college ready to make a bet on myself. I promised my parents I'd only be moving back east for a year, but then years 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 quickly passed by. Now, a month shy of my 7-year anniversary it's time to say goodbye. Despite not always being New York City's biggest fan, it's always been pretty good to me, so closing this chapter certainly feels bittersweet.
When I first arrived, I was hooked on the energy and ambition of the city. Empire State of Mind was the ringtone on my phone and I was determined to be one of the ones who "made it here". New York was never a dream of mine, but rather an opportunity that fell into my lap. It came knocking twice that year, and on the second knock, I decided it was a sign I should give it a shot. I had only visited twice and didn't know any of the neighborhoods, but I had a job and a boss who helped me get settled. I was naive of so many things, but the one thing I had was determination and, at that time, it was enough for me. I'll never forget the feeling of flying into Manhattan that day and realizing that I was really going to live here. Ready or not.. it was happening.
I started over and moved into an apartment I had never seen, that was double my Portland rent, with a roommate I had never met before, just hoping for the best. There were so many things that could have gone wrong, but luckily, it all worked out. Our first weekend in NYC we jumped right into city living and went to Fashion's Night Out where I had my first experience of getting lost -- you know typical Anna. I walked around downtown for almost two hours trying to find my roommate, confused about how to catch a cab and wishing I had a smartphone I could get directions on. Even though I was lost and getting eaten alive by mosquitos (which is a whole other story), I couldn't have been happier just taking everything in. Eventually, I did find my roommate and a few friends who were visiting, and we walked up and down the streets of Chelsea like we owned the place. I remember passing Neil Patrick Harris and Joan Rivers and just being overwhelmed in the best possible way. That night was just the beginning and I couldn't wait to embrace everything the city had to offer.
After living here for about a month, I met someone who I would go on to spend nearly all my time in the city with. He was calm, cool and collected and was along for the ride of my adventures. We spent our free time checking out the latest and greatest restaurants we had heard about and he got used to waiting to take his first bite until I took pictures for my blog. We spent more weekends and holidays on Long Island than I could count with some of the sweetest people who I'll always consider family. We looked forward to afternoons spent at Central Park and even more so, the big smile that would be on Scooter's face when we walked him out there. Which it should be mentioned, I was always the actual third wheel in that relationship.
I can honestly say I watched more sports during our relationship than the first 21 years of my life combined, but I always looked forward to going to Yankees games aka Garlic Cheesies season. He taught me that NY pizza should be folded when you eat it and, what he would say, the proper pronunciation of Mario -- although that one is still up for debate. It's hard to find a page in my New York story that he wasn't apart of and he was my hardest goodbye. He was my rock and taught me that relationships didn't have to be hard and what it really meant to be life partners. It's not an easy thing to decide you want different things in life after being together so long, but sometimes the best thing you can do for someone you care about is to let them go.
Beyond love, I met more amazing friends than I could have ever imagined. Year after year I built relationships with some of the kindest and most ambitious people who really got me. People from all over the country and walks of life who also decided to give New York a shot. We'd meet up for brunch, hang out in the park, go out for wine, and girls' nights were always some of my favorite memories. We took in all of the city had to offer, celebrated our wins, hugged it out during the tough times and gave each other a kick in the butt when we needed a boost. You guys held me together when I needed it the most and were my biggest cheerleaders every step of the way. NYC didn't always feel like home to me, but it was my family and friends that really kept me past year 1 and I hope each and every one of you know how much you mean to me. And while I know these will be lifetime relationships (I'm not that easy to get rid of!) not being a subway ride away from all of you is going to be really tough.
Not only was New York a big part of my life personally, but it was huge professionally. I can say for certain it was one of the best decisions I could have made. This city tested me in so many ways and opened the doors to opportunities I would never have had otherwise. It lit up my passion for writing when I started this blog, helped me work my way up in my career and later inspired me to have the courage to start my own business -- something I would have never thought I'd do. There's something about this city that changes you, builds your character and pushes you further than you ever thought you could go and for that, I'll be forever grateful.
New York is definitely something special and even though I'm ready to go, I'm sure going to miss this crazy place for so many reasons. I'll close things out with a quote from the first blog post I ever published, “Too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated.” It's one of my favorites to this day and one that I think summarizes how I viewed my time here, as well as my next adventure. Goodbyes have always been tough for me, but this one has truly taken everything I have to get through. To closing one chapter and writing another, goodbye NYC.