This week marks my anniversary in New York City. One year ago I packed two suitcases, shipped some boxes (because there was no way my whole life would fit in a tiny Manhattan apartment), and bought a one way ticket to a brand new life. In retrospect, my decision to come—mere months before a global pandemic and unprecedented civil strife—proves my psychic powers are in less than fighting shape. But when I reflect on my time, I must admit that I moved here to experience the unexpected. One never knows where life, hell even a year, may lead, true. But there's something about NYC and its ability to keep its people on their toes that is singular. I've too many stories to count about how simple nights grabbing cocktails turned into epiphany-inducing early morning tête-à-têtes with strangers, or the times a quiet walk in the park led to impromptu dance parties in the sunshine that I was helpless to walk away from. I'm steadied, in spite of the uncertainly all around me, by remembering that with a little bit of steel, a dollop of adventurousness, and an open mind, anything is possible.
When you thrust yourself into an unfamiliar space, the moment when a place becomes familiar doesn't hit you all at once: There's the moment you realize you don't need to GPS your way to the subway and didn't forget your metro card. You don't worry about being swindled in a taxi, because you can confidently tell your cabbie the drop off cross streets without an "umm...". There's the moment the overcrowded streets aren't so overwhelming and jaywalking is easy. You can make your way to the bathroom in the dark without hitting a table or wall; you've memorized the layout of your apartment. There's moment the owner of your bodega recognizes you and your order. You realize you know exactly where to go for the perfect martini at 2am. And there's the moment you land at La Guardia after time away and enjoy the ride into the city, exhaling...because you're glad to finally be home.