Thursday, January 6, 2011

the announcement and aftermath

2011 had entered with quiet grace, pushing me down a runway and into the clouds. more than the plane hung in the balance between sky and sea. for the first time, looking out the oval window of the aircraft, i saw my city from above. i saw it for its flaws and faults, for its snow-covered messy streets and whipping winds, for its ability to take in a refugee and spit out a survivor. i smiled to myself as the people across the aisle craned their necks to see the view out of the windows on my side. it was a new year, full of opportunities. perhaps it was a new york year.

when i returned to my loft, baggage in hand, art stared back at me. my walls were now covered with the products of my birthday party, when i'd had my friends over to paint canvases and decorate cupcakes. each had their personal impression, their interpretation of what would please me, their answer to the unspoken question of "what do you want me to create for you?". one canvas stood in the middle of them, one i'd painted when i first moved into "my new york in north carolina" some nine months earlier. it read from top to bottom:

i gazed around at my ill-matching red couch, the imposing entertainment center stacked high with books i'd read but not loved, the piles of clothes that fit neither my current style nor my body, and the bed i'd never been able to move into the windowless bedroom. i'd needed the light from the windows. i'd needed the airy space of the main room. i suddenly felt stifled by it all. with manhattan looking on, i tried to make myself at home, but everything felt ill-fitting. of my possessions, there was nothing left to hold on to, nothing left to lose that actually held real value. photographs of my friends loomed out from their various frames, their children's faces smiling. the possessions could be sold. the family i'd made, however, would be more difficult to separate from myself.

my first few days back at work were a blur of my ordinary motions. anyone could do this, i thought, as i picked up my nanny charge from preschool. anyone could do anything, and i could do this. i could move from this place. i could leave this life. it rang in the back of my mind. for two days, i went about my usual business. on the third, while a sweet toddler napped in the next room, i posted the status on facebook, step zero in my campaign:

"it's january 6th, 2011. do i have the guts to pick up and move to nyc in six months? do i have the determination and ingenuity to pare down my life so i can move anywhere using only my car, even if it's not nyc?"

the response was immediate and overwhelming, as was the range of emotions. of course, no one wants to lose me, but many are happy to see me follow through with something i've only talked about for four years. the most gut-wrenching reaction belongs to my best friend and his wife, who can barely bear to hear me mention it, whose son feels (in part) like my own. it was his seven month old, smiling face that greeted me at the airport. the cost of a round-trip train ticket from new york to north carolina and back is around $200. i can't help but wonder the cost of leaving.

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