I have left New York City three different times. The first time, I was fighting it thinking that I might actually fall off the edge of the earth by doing so. The second time I thought it was for good. I cried and cried and cried as I walked down Central Park West thinking that the next time I was there I would be "just a tourist". The third time was a complete unknown. At that point I had experienced the first two and knew enough not to commit in any direction since life is just funny like that. I was also seven months pregnant and knew that by the time we had to make the choice, life was already going to look and feel very different.
There were so many times while we were on the road that the thought of coming back to New York was out of the question. We were experiencing so many new places and cities and with each one I looked at it from the perspective of whether or not I could live there. I also had a serious flirtation turned love affair once again with California. I love California. The entire state, which I know is sacrilegious because either you love So Cal or Nor Cal but definitely not both if you're a real Californian. I love both, so I am not. I did spend countless hours however imagining what life would be like if we moved there, hiking the mountains, standing on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and living our best carefree, yoga-centered, politically liberal California life. I haven't fully ruled that life out by the way. There is still a part of me that deeply longs to spend large amounts of time there (universe are you listening?), but we knew that it wasn't the right time right now. The reason that I kept telling myself that New York was the least desirable, was because I know how hard it can be to live here. I know that New York requires a very certain energy just to maintain. I know that it asks a lot of its inhabitants and requires serious compromise when it comes to living both in the how and where. If you want to be close and have a short commute you pay more for less space. If you want have space you sacrifice more time spent getting going to and from home. Its expensive and smelly and noisy and you share your space with everyone including the walls, floors and ceilings of your apartment. And yet...
My husband and I have been together for what is almost sixteen years now. We basically met when we were children, seriously we were both still teenagers. I could go on and on about the ins and outs, ups and downs of our relationship and why we have been able to stay together for so long. In a way, none of those details matter. What I continue to realize through the ever changing and evolving course of our relationship and marriage is that we continue to choose each other and commit over and over again to each other, as the people we are now not who we were back when. Since we have known each other for almost half of our lifetimes, we have been witness to each other's evolution into our own "humanhood". I can say with certainty that the person I knew so well and intimately ten years ago, is not exactly the same as the one I wake up to now. I'm also certain he would say the same thing about me. There are qualities that still exist, will always exist and are a huge reason why I love him. They are at the foundation of who we are and always will be. What is the most appealing to me is that while knowing that those qualities I love continue to exist there is a constant discovery of all the ways he puts those characteristics to use. With every new moment, new milestone, new challenge and difficulty that arises for us both personally, professionally, individually and as a family, we watch as the other makes choices. We then choose how we either compliment that choice (and sometimes not) with our own choices, but at the end of the day, we re-commit to making it all work in the very best ways that we know how and to thrive and shine together.
I know that the metaphor of comparing New York City to a relationship with another person has been done time and time again. I know its been a very long time since I have dated a person other than my husband. The other day I was thinking about how for this to hold true, that means that these past two years I have spent my time, energy and efforts serial dating. Every week there has been a new city, new experiences, new offerings and new energy. Often times there was a real connection and had time allowed we could have seen where things led. There were also a few occasions where it was very apparent this was going no where and lets just smile and nod to get through our time together. In a way, this way of living was so easy. The beginning of any relationship is filled with excitement at just the mere prospect of possibility. The hard part is when all of that wears off and you are left with the raw reality of those qualities that lie beneath the surface. Thats when you choose to commit or get out. That's where the real work happens.
If I'm going to hold true to this metaphor a bit longer (bear with me) New York and I have a long term on again off again relationship. I look at what is required to make it work and I take a big deep breath, knowing full well I have to put in the time and effort that is required. I also know though that once I show up in that way, ready to work and to focus while equally ready to just be in the process, I get a huge return. And thankfully, just like my relationship, New York is so incredibly forgiving and unconditional. When I have needed the space to take time to grow, it says go. And when I'm ready to return to it with a better understanding of myself it welcomes me back without question or thought. I like to believe that it too grows with me. Just like the incredible human being whom I have chosen to spend my life with has.
I think that we either choose to use the pieces of our life, people, and circumstances to either teach us or overtake us. To empower us or victimize us. Here I am three weeks in to my third return to the city I love to love, and often times struggle with. I have full knowledge of how hard it is to make life work here, and yet I choose to recommit to this beautiful old place in new ways. I have a feeling, big things are in store...
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.