On May 22nd, in a hotel room in Phoenix, I made a decision. And I immediately texted my friend Tara.
I had been flirting with the idea of leaving New York City since the day I arrived. And after five years of being there, while I was in that hotel room in Arizona at my cousin's wedding-turned-family-reunion (after a last minute literal change of heart) I finally realized something:
I make choices.
I choose to live in New York, a sticky medley of concrete, colossal costs, and stress. I choose to live in a place that gives me a lot of things, but takes more things away. While my life was dynamic in New York City, I also felt stuck. While many of my friends were getting engaged, settling into a permanent life in the city, or moving away entirely, I felt like I was standing still. I was still doing a lot, but it was like running a loop versus a point-to-point: I'd experienced a lot of varied terrain, but always end up where I started. This time, I wanted to end up someplace else.
I finally realized I could choose differently. I can choose to live in the mountains. I can choose to have more space, fresh air, and new rhythms. The things New York provides— deep connections, an important career, and the ability to enjoy the little things—could be carried with me anywhere.
I was choosing not to have the lifestyle I've always wanted. And at 28-years-old, without any real obligations except taking care of myself (which is hard enough), I finally felt uncomfortable with my choices.
So I texted Tara on May 28th. I told my dad about the decision on May 30th, in the Phoenix airport bar after three shots of whiskey. I called my mom. Told my best friends. Explained it to my 4-month-old niece. Gave my (2+month) notice at work. And finally wrote about it for the Internet, which made it oddly feel really real.
Every time I told someone else, there was always that feeling in the back of my head: Was I going to freak out? Is this the time where I'll completely change my mind? Have a meltdown? Beg for my job back? But it never happened. Somehow, even though I was leaving nearly all of my friends, a good chunk of family, a job I loved, and a city I knew so well, I wasn't afraid. The idea of leaving an entire life behind to jump into something completely unknown didn't only feel right; it felt necessary.
Maybe I'm addicted to changing sceneries and never getting too comfortable. I'm not entirely sure. Part of it is a gut thing. Another part of it is a holy-shit-NYC-is-expensive-thing. And part of it is a curiosity thing. Jumble all of this together and the decision felt like a good one.
After the decision came all the details. I wanted to spend the summer in New York to transition smoothly out of work, spend time with friends, and search for a new job. I'm lucky to have amazing family in Colorado who are letting me be their roommate while I settle and find an apartment, so I didn't have to worry about housing right away.
The stickler was my Brooklyn lease ended in June. I thought about subletting, but decided it would be better to save money and couch surf while I was still working. So I boxed all my stuff up and stored it in my apartment's basement. I kept a backpack with me to get me through the summer. I moved out, and made a copy of the front door key so I could get my stuff later on. I bought a car, and then moved said stuff out of my former apartment and into my jeep. I crashed with friends in Crown Heights, Greenpoint, Hell's Kitchen, West Village, and Williamsburg. I stayed with family on Long Island, in a beach house on Fire Island, and made a trip to Bainbridge Island in Washington. I somehow also managed to get through foot surgery (while carrying around said backpack), and even landed a new job.
So ... I checked off all the boxes. On paper, everything worked out. And it truly was a beautiful summer. But it was also a weird one. New York slowly started to not feel like mine anymore. I'd walk by my old apartment but couldn't go inside. Friends and family graciously opened up their houses for me, but my own private space was gone. Living out of a backpack, wondering how I was going to do laundry, and trying to walk with a crippled foot, got tiring.
And then I started to say goodbye to everyone I loved. I had my final day at work. I drank, I think, 8,000,000,000 ml of wine and whiskey as I said these goodbyes.
On August 17th, I finally left. I picked up my best friend for our 2nd road trip across the country. It took us nearly two hours to get out of Manhattan, which, if anything, re-re-re solidified my decision to leave. And every morning as we woke up in a new state, I wondered if I'd miss New York and the life I left behind.
So far, that hasn't happened. I'm writing in my cousin's backyard in Fort Collins after a morning run in the mountains. I feel good. I'm still nervous, exhausted, and unsure of what's to come. My first day of work is tomorrow, and things will undoubtedly continue to shift.
But I guess I believe in myself. I think I can do this. We're 48 hours in, so we'll see what happens next.