My final dinner in New York City was a plate of mozzarella sticks, a glass of red wine, and a slice of carrot cake. Jeremiah and I ate everything in an overpriced diner in the middle of Times Square at 11 PM. As our legs stuck to the hot rubber booth and we sipped from tall glasses of ice water, I suddenly felt immensely grateful. This man across from me, scooping marinara sauce onto chewy, re-heated mozzarella sticks, and simultaneously holding my hand across a sticky table, is the person that holds all of my love. This is the person that I'm starting a new adventure and life with; it blows my mind every day.
I didn't start crying until the morning we left. I think with all of the move's to-dos — packing the moving truck twice, loading everything into the U-Haul pod, worrying about next steps, upcoming charges, and the impending hours we'd spend on the bus to Hampton, Virginia — the tears knew there wasn't much time for pause, and so they waited patiently, with baited breath. Jeremiah and I stayed in a hotel in the heart of Times Square, and as I stared out of the window at 8:00 AM, watching so many people, and cars, and food trucks whir by, the first tears fell. This place has healed, taught, and challenged me more than I had ever imagined. Pieces of my self will always be in this city; I have no doubt about it.
On the phone with my Mom, she said, "Think about where you were 3 years ago and where you are now. There has been so much good. Hold that in yourself. Acknowledge that. Trust that." And when I pause and reflect, I am so grateful to have lived here for two years. It allowed me the space to heal, grow, and be in a place in which I was finally open to giving and receiving healthy love. I think of the girl who arrived — heart hardened, anxiety on 100, and truly not being able to see herself clearly or foster a love for herself. And I think of where I am now — confident, loved, open and bright and illuminated. I am so, so thankful.
The tears officially poured out in the Port Authority bus terminal, after I thought I lost my headphones. I had a sudden feeling of extreme displacement. My things were in boxes, I couldn't remember what I did and didn't have on my person, and I realized I was leaving the only place I felt like I knew. The moment felt terrifying. But as I started crying, there was Jeremiah — eyebrows furrowed, hand rubbing my back, lips kissing the top of my head — and I knew then that the tears were a good thing. A temporary thing. As my friend Tim said, "Yeah, it's always sad to leave. But that's actually a good thing. If you're sad to leave a place it means you learned, you've grown, you've laughed, and you've cried. And so a part of you will always be here."
Thank you, New York, for helping me to find myself. I couldn't have asked for a better gift.