Happy 10 years, NYC
I tried finding the exact date of when a bright-eyed 17 year old me moved into my freshman year dorm (a building they affectionately called, "the cinderblock prison" at NYU, back in August of 2008), but I could not find it for the life of me. But I oddly feel like that is rather representative of how life is in NYC-- it flies by all too quickly most of the time.
The reason why I am writing this post is because I felt like I owed NYC a little commemorative anniversary note to mark 10 years together. I also feel lucky to have lived and be living in NYC during such a crazy decade of change in the world, in culture and technology. The NYC I moved to 10 years ago had such a different feel; there was no social media in the way it is used now, no Google Maps in the palm of your hand, no ubiquitous iPhones or even Blackberries, people actually looked at each other on the subway (even while listening to their iPods), and so much more. A subway swipe costed $2, yellow cabs were everywhere (no Uber), Seamless didn't exist, and you looked up subway directions on HopStop before you left your place. The times have changed, and so has the city alongside it.
Nowadays, I feel like it's actually quite rare for anyone to live in one city for 10 straight years; I. for one, didn't imagine myself living here for an entire decade. I describe my time here with NYC as a relationship, because it truly feels this way. It has seen me through an insane amount of trials and tribulations, growth, the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs. It kind of feels like when you meet someone you weren't expecting to fall in love with but then suddenly this beautifully colorful relationship blossoms and you grow through multiple evolutions of yourself throughout it.
NYC is also the first place I truly felt at home in. Being a kid who moved a total of 18 times in the first 20 years of her life, I never set down roots in a single place. Now, not only is my family all here, but I realize that every significant life event, decision, and transition of mine has all taken place here. There have been a good handful of times where I was very close to moving elsewhere, but looking back now, I am so grateful I stayed. It's been where I was meant to be.
I honestly can't imagine who I would be without this city. Not just for the endless entertainment, amazing food, beautiful sights, and all the obvious things that millions of tourists come to NYC for; but the people, the culture, the pace, the celebration of differences and commonalities, the relentlessly passionate drive and level of creativity in New Yorkers that I simply have never found to be matched by any other place in the world. Also for an introvert like me, it's the best city in the world to be simultaneously alone and with others.
It is not a city for everyone, that's for sure. It can be ruthlessly demanding and exhausting. But personally, I feel like everything the city asks of me is a fair price for the immense amount it gives back. The city is a ripe landscape of opportunity-- you have to be willing to work your ASS off to earn those opportunities, but I've found that 10/10 it's worth it.
NYC, I have no idea what the future holds for us, but you will always be home to me.
...Now, I am due to get my first New York State license, and we'll be making things reaaally official.
Photo by Sophie Sahara