Recently, I talked about writing my own love letter and stuffing it in the overflowing letter box that sits tucked away in one of my favorite cafes in Connecticut. Written prior to living in Brooklyn, this letter was when I wasn’t sure if the apartment I threw most of my savings at was going to be mine. Was it all going to be one huge mistake? Still, I was finally chasing after one of my oldest dreams of living in the city. Though nervous and unsure of where my life would take me once I left the comfort of my childhood home, I’m glad I took a chance on all this.
Today marks six months from the day I first moved all of my world globes into our new apartment.
And what seems to be everyone’s favorite question to ask me is:
“Do you ever regret your move to Brooklyn?”
So I’ll just leave you with the response I never fail to give:
“Yes. I absolutely regret not moving here sooner.”
I don’t think I’ve ever been more smitten with a place before. It’s in the smaller moments when I find myself sitting in a cafe I use to frequent pre-move, where I was always wishing my dreams of living in Brooklyn into my cup of maple coffee. The big difference now? I wasn’t leaving to go back to Connecticut right after. This was my home now. I simply hop back onto the subway, read my book, and rummage for my apartment keys when I’m a few doors away. As I listen to my heels clicking on the pavement, I realize I’ve “made it.” I was now living the dreams that tugged at my heart for years.
Yet it hasn’t been all good though.
Every time I walk out my front door, I seem to bleed another $50. My anxiety has overtaken me several times, rendering me useless for most of the day. I’ve sat on more bar stools than theater seats and I still haven’t walked the Brooklyn Bridge. My celebratory party of moving & making it seemed to have lasted more than a weekend, stretching on for months as I became careless with the little amount of money and dignity I had left.
Recently, I decided to step away from the cycle and actually focus on making a life here, not just celebrating it. I stopped drinking completely for five weeks. This uncovered the extreme social anxiety I had masked. I started going to bed earlier and rising at a reasonable time. I’ve read self-help books, watched motivational speeches, set schedules for my free days, and drank boxes upon boxes of tea. Still, it took awhile to recognize I didn’t have to continue disliking the person I had become.
I’ve been to several book readings, an improv show, explored the West Village, and even attended a Wes Anderson themed Burlesque show. All while battling the urge to flee without a drink in my hand, or friend by my side. I walk a little further each trip into the city, just to get a few more sights in before heading home for warmth. Finally, all that time alone has given me a chance to push to (try to) write on here twice a week. Nothing makes me happier than the process of writing, editing, fixing all my terrible SEO mistakes, and finally hitting publish. I even started taking self portraits again, a weekly exercise I had long-since abandoned during my at the start of living in Brooklyn.
My anxiety has not improved, but it’s a work in progress.
I’m still learning to love myself. I also have made it a goal to be kinder with my self-talk. My schedule is still all over the place, but there’s a bit more routine to my madness. One of my absolute favorite books, Never Can Say Goodbye, has helped re-affirm all that I had first envisioned. It’s a collection of stories about various writers’ unshakeable love for New York. Someday, I hope to add my own to this world. One of my favorite stories, ESB, is about the writer’s fascination with the humble and lonely beginnings of the Empire State building. It holds a paragraph I’ve read over and over:
“As a friend was moving away, he told me that he wanted to go somewhere where he can still build things. ‘What,’ he asked, ‘am I building in New York?’ I didn’t know what to tell him then, but this is what I would tell him now: in New York, you are demanded to build yourself. The environment calls for it. You build on pure speculation, foundation up from the salty bedrock built upon something that was there before, as many stories high as you want to go, as fast as you can get there. It is possible to fail, possible to outpace yourself, to not turn a profit, to remain empty inside with your lights still blazing for show. But when it works, what you build becomes a beacon.”
When I first started this post, I figured I’d have a long letter to write to myself at the end of this explanation. Halfway through, I realized this was the letter. I didn’t need a new, lengthy explanation to shove into a mailbox hoping I’d find it again someday. I’m nowhere near where I hope to be, yet I no longer loathe the person I see reflected back at me in store windows.
For this period of my life, New York is exactly where I’m meant to be.
I love my friends, neighborhood, odd jobs, and chipped mugs. I have my long trips to the bookstore when I’m sad, wine & brownies with friends when I’m lonely, and a never-ending need for self-improvement when I’m frustrated. In the end, the love letter I realized I needed, is simply this:
You are doing the best that you can with what you’ve got. Just keep going.