This entry is part of my year-end, month-long Reverb 11 blogging project, where I reflect on my year in a series of daily blog posts. Today I am writing on RELEASE: What did you let go of this year?
I let go of a lot this year: debts, weight, possessions, some relationships, obligations, parts of my business, expectations of myself, limiting beliefs, delusions, illusions. Some of these I shed every year, some of these were momentous. But I think the most significant aspect of my life and self that I unloaded this year was my long-standing attachment and association with New York City.
I stopped living there in 2010, after I graduated from film school, so the transition started awhile ago. But the question of moving back was always in the back of my mind, lingering there, waiting to be made. When are you returning? When are you getting back here? So many times I was asked.
But this was the year when I let NYC go. When I realized, after ten non-continuous years, that I had absorbed what I need, gleaned the experiences and opportunities I wanted, soaked in the atmosphere, internalized the mindset, acquired enough stories to last the rest of my life — I had gotten what I came for, and it was time for me to move on.
I find this really scary, and sad, and disconcerting. I’d been associated with New York in my own mind for so long. I’d always wanted to live there, ever since Madonna did her “I went to Noo Yawk” monologue that begins her “Virgin Tour” movie from 1984. My imagination had been shaped by the great American metropolis and everything it implied: a certain level of culture, style, worldliness, a cosmopolitanism that was open to new experiences, ideas, people, a place filled with enough energy for constant reinvention. NYC had long been the setting of many of my fantasies about love and life, about glamour and how epic and exciting and full life could be. If I didn’t have New York, who was I? What was interesting about me? And what did it mean to leave behind a good portion of my friends geographically? So many resources, contacts, relationships? A full third of my life?
I still don’t have answers to these questions, and sometimes it is as if I’ve lost a big part of my identity still. All I have are the new visions and dreams made possible, the ones that have been itching inside me for awhile, waiting to be quietly acknowledged, desires to be closer to my family as my parents get older, and the new reveries and imaginings made possible by living and dreaming elsewhere — all of which mean I need to leave the city I love behind, at least for a good while.
I have a storage unit in NYC filled with remnants of my past life there. I’ve had it for over a year, waiting for me to empty it into a new home. Each time I go back to see friends, visit, maybe do a little business, it gets a little emptier: I sell things off, ship objects home, leave them on the street, give them away, bring them to the Salvation Army on 96th Street. There’s really nothing left but a box of CDs, two suitcases, and two boxes of random objects I can’t really let go of yet. I’ll be back in the new year, I think, to finally empty the space and turn in my key and card. The storage space is near Riverside Park, my favorite place to walk in the city, so I imagine after I’m done I’ll drift down the side of the island, retracing footsteps and memories, looking out over the river onto another shore in the distance. And I’m sure I will feel sad to let New York fully go, but I hope the space that it leaves will fill itself with something so magical that I couldn’t possibly even dream of it yet.