Five Years: An Ode to New York

Five years seems like a major milestone for us –

this raucous, seductive city and me.

As one who loves new adventures, endless options, and would prefer to always be on the move, half a decade is a big deal. In my younger days, imagining five years with someone seemed like an eternity. I assumed I would get bored, restless and need a new object for my affections. But it seems that New York and I have found ourselves officially in a long-term relationship.

Like most of my romances, I dove headlong into my love affair with New York. I was enticed by her flashing lights, rich cultural experiences, and most importantly, the promise of fulfilling career dreams. I came for the love of a good man, and for the dream of living in an incredible place that held endless opportunities.

We have been through a lot these last five years. At first I tried to prove my love and devotion to her with first with doe-eyed enthusiasm and grand gestures. At times it seemed she was ignoring me, taunting me, and demanding that I try harder.

I was sure that I had to put on my best face to impress her – to be different, be more. Desperate to prove myself and earn my keep, I shape-shifted and squeezed myself into the mold of whatever I thought she was asking me to be. Sometimes I sent her desperate pleas, and other days entirely giving up and acting as if I did not care.

New York and I have shared both milestone moments and the bitterest of fights. She has pointed out my weakness and flaws. She reminds me that I have failed. But she has also invited me to try again, and to evolve. New York is not content to let me be the same person who came here five years ago. Somehow she knows I will be a better person for it.

Even now I find myself walking through her streets, listening to her sweet songs, and out of nowhere I am overcome with a rush of love and gratitude to still be here. I know her shortcuts, the parts that are tried-and-true, the spaces that speak to my soul. Every day, week, month, and year is an invitation to come and explore, go deeper. I want to consume every part of her, and yet I know it is impossible – there will always be more to discover.

While I remain infatuated with New York, I find things are more balanced now – there is a place for me here, but I know I may never mean to her what she means to me. I can let her be the beautiful, wild thing she is and be thankful for the small parts she allows me to play in her grand history.

When I look back on my time spent here in the years to come, I know now that I will think of her fondly, despite our differences. After five years I can finally love New York for who she is, and all the incredible things she has to offer without making her presence the pinnacle of my existence. To know her is to love her, and I do.

Have you ever struggled to find your place in your city? What has made a place feel like home?

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