Fall used to remind me of a boy in gray sweatpants driving around East Lansing, Michigan where the world seemed so big and my future so certainly suburban. But now it’s skyscrapers and skylines you see on postcards and people who do what they say and say what they mean and mean it when they say they love me. Fall, like that boy, used to take me from blooming, to wilting, to frozen-freezing-and most often numb to all feeling for an entire Winter’s time. But now Fall reminds me of a girl who wasn’t sure she could, but certain she should try. And she did, and she tries every day to be better than she was the last time and every Fall since has reminded her how good it feels to let the dead things go.
The thing about New York is the experience. And if you’re not out experiencing the food, or the people, or the sights, then you’re alone with yourself. Probably the version of yourself you hoped to leave in your hometown, hoping you’d start over in the city that dreams are made of. But in New York, dreams don’t just come fleeting in the night. In New York dreams are on billboards and in the people passing you on sixth ave at 8:45 every morning. In New York, dreams become realities every minute of every day. But not in your tiny apartment or your routine subway schedules. Dreams are in the adventure, in taking a different avenue home after work, in happy hours your rent makes it hard to afford. But I promise you need it.You need that overpriced glass of wine and laughs with friends you’ve only just met. I promise that you need to see the city at night and taste the freshness in the air after 8pm on a weekday. I swear it gets you through the never ending loneliness. I promise there is a waiter, or a cab driver, or a drunk man on the street who will tell you something about life you didn’t know before that moment, that moment that you would’ve missed had you got lost in the routine of letting your life pass you by.
Four November’s ago I was riding around Detroit in a pink hummer limo celebrating my life. I thought that at 21 years old I had lived an entire life and I spent that birthday celebrating the Midwestern successes I was taught to be proud of: college graduation in the spring, maintaining friendships that started in adolescence, making my own car payment, etc. I thought I knew the world because I knew the ins and outs of the very small world I created for myself. Now, four years later, I look back and realize my life hadn’t even begun, that the world is infinitely larger than I could have imagined from the suburbia I grew up in. My life only began when I moved to New York. I was only beginning to test the waters of a very deep well; one full of opportunity, new friends, different cultures, delicious food, inspiration on every street corner, and for me, an endless supply of humility. New York has a way of reminding you that you aren’t shit, that your 21st birthday was merely the dusk before the dawn. There are millions of other people sharing this city with you and they’re all equally, if not more, talented than you. Likely, they worked just as hard, were just as brave and courageous, and left just as much behind in order to be here, in this city, living the life they dreamed about as children, the same way you did. So here’s to everyone who dreamed big, to myself for having 25 years worth of fight inside of me, and to all the lessons I’ve yet to learn.
I really thought it would break my heart every time I heard it. I truly believed that every time the beat dropped and Sam Smith sang, “Now I’ve got you in my space, I won’t let go of you” I’d see his face looking over at me from the other side of the couch while he wrapped his arms around my calves and danced with his shoulders the way he always did. It was one of the many times in my life I wanted to jump outside of myself because I felt too good, as if my body was conditioned to contain only so much joy. The Chicago winter kept it cold outside, but there was warmth in that song, in the hope that he’d latch on to me. It started to play at SoulCycle so I closed my eyes as I expected my heart to pull me from the bike. But it’s not cold here in New York, not right now. And it surely wasn’t cold in that room, and Halle told the class it was okay, that it would be okay, and that sometimes that’s all we needed to hear to push through. My head started swaying, my heart started pounding, my lips turned up – finally, I lost myself in the beat rather than in him. I opened my eyes to see Halle whipping her head back and forth, hair flailing in every direction, hands pounding the handlebars. The sweat on her body glistened in the low-light and her energy filled the entire room; it filled all of the empty spots inside of me. Her movement said she loved the song, herself, that moment, this life and that whatever it may bring she was ready for it. And I figured if she could be brave enough to let life happen to her, I could be bold enough to forget you happened to me.