I’ve been listening to the downpour of rain on a muggy, warm October day. It feels like summer rain – my favorite kind. Autumn is late this year. We’ve been waiting impatiently, waiting for the leaves to change color, waiting for the humidity to dissipate, waiting for brisker mornings, waiting for change.
We left New York with ease, and without nostalgia. We were restless, tired of the everyday hustle. We were stuck and not growing, feeling uneasy too in our one-bedroom apartment. It just never quite felt like home. Our only respite was the river, running right behind our building, and what a privilege that was. In the mornings, I would find a quiet corner and stand facing the river, and watch the water gracefully dance over the rocks below. In some spots, you could find some sand too; it was my little beach. Eventually, it was no longer just I, as people walked by with their dogs, or jogged passed me. But I took pleasure in those little quiet moments, grateful for the water, for the peace it brought to my heart before my commute on the overcrowded L train to Manhattan. Before the anxiety filled my body to the point that I could barely eat my breakfast. Anxiety had become my norm in those last few months. I was praying to the universe multiple times a day, asking for strength. I had occasional suicidal thoughts. I imagined running away – getting on a bus and leaving the city without anyone knowing.
When the bus pulled up to the road that welcomed us to Pennsylvania, the sign read: “Pursue your happiness.” We looked at each other and smiled. I have always believed in signs from the universe. I even believe that the decisions we make are all for a reason, even if they are not the wisest, they lead to something that was meant to happen. Perhaps this is called believing in fate or destiny. Whatever it is, it helps me move forward, and accept even those not-so-great decisions that I once made. Sometimes, I think of how moving to New York City was an unwise decision. Was all the financial, mental, and physical stress worth it? Was it worth the drunken nights, spending money I didn’t have, lamenting a broken heart? Was it worth walking the Williamsburg Bridge at midnight alone, crying, dreaming of something else? Was it worth missing my family as I struggled to make the city my home?
Yes, in the end, it was the best, craziest decision I ever made to move to the city alone at 21. It led me to find beautiful friends, most of whom have also left the city, but who will be friends for life. It led me to my soul mate. It led me to find myself at 30, accepting that I need to leave the city despite all the love I feel for it. New York made me a stronger woman because it had me face difficult situations where I had to make choices, where I had to take responsibility because no one else was there to make a decision for me. As scared as I was to move there, I faced most of my fears, including losing a job and getting up on stage in front of strangers, singing and reading my poems. No one forced me to do any of it. What New York did was give me the space to face my biggest fear of all: myself.