For as long as I can remember, I have loved this city.
I visited New York for the first time when I was three years old. I visited again when I was 17 to ring in the new year of 2008. My dad drove me up from Washington, D.C. after high school graduation just so I could spend a day here. I visited again for two weeks, by myself, after my freshman year of college. Then once a year after that for the next three years.
I have memories of specific people from almost every trip. A musician lugging an upright bass into the subway. A man giving away posters with kind mantras from the steps of his brownstone. A woman in an expensive suit wearing tennis shoes, smoking a cigarette and listening to headphones on her walk home from work. Every visit, I looked at the people around me and I wondered how they had done it. How they had been so brave to uproot their lives and head to New York, and so lucky to have New York welcome them into its good graces.
And then, it was my turn. Three years ago I laid myself at the feet of New York City. No job, no plan, no clue. I knew I wanted to write and that I had three months' rent before I was on the street. And then, a stroke of fortune. I got a job that paid the bills. I met good people who became good friends. I stopped getting lost on the subway...kinda. I got a job that not only paid the bills but allowed me to write. I got engaged and then married. I decorated my very first apartment. I got a promotion. I quit my job. I worked in a coffee shop and wrote my first screenplay.
Over the past three years, I've seen a lot of girls visiting New York just like I had so many times before. Girls on the subway who were sitting up straight and soaking everything in. Who didn't want to look at their maps in the hopes that someone might, just might, mistake them as a local. Girls who were already plotting their way back here someday and wondering if they too would really be brave enough and lucky enough. Or maybe they were just making sure they wouldn't get mugged. But just in case, I always took a minute in my head to whisper the words that they too could do it. That they would be just fine, they'd be safe in the arms of this city.
Today is my last day here. Spence and I are packing up a car and moving to Los Angeles in about 3 hours. And as hard as it is, I know it's time. If I'm honest, it's been time for a while. I know there have been times in the past few months where all I could think about was getting away from this city. I know the opportunities that await us out west are incredibly exciting, and I know when I am sitting on a beach in February I will not feel what I'm feeling right now.
But today, I have been transported. I am back to being a visitor, sitting up straight and soaking everything in. I zoom out and I look around this coffee shop in the East Village, and my eyes land on a young woman, sitting on a couch, sipping an iced coffee and pretending there aren't tears welling up in her eyes. And in my head, I whisper to her, "You did it, Lady. Aren't you so, so lucky?"