Down that red dirt road: reflections on 1 year in NYC

It’s fierce, tough, and competitive. It’s a city that doesn’t lend itself to forgiveness. All the pictures and the photos, like the one across my bed, that feature the magnificent skyscrapers grazing the drifting clouds which shelter one of the world’s greatest cities, speak the glory of it. But they don’t speak the unified struggle or the heartbreak or the collective triumph of its pulsing, throbbing humanity. So on my 364th day in this city, I’m going to try here.

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I wouldn’t dream of characterizing my year here as the hallmark of fun, but these 12 months have certainly been a life-altering, wonderful adventure, filled with magnificent ups, the best of my life, high on cloud 9 and simply gazing down at the world. And the lowest points too, which I don’t particularly care to remember. I’ve learned valuable lessons and have acquired a fierce, steadfast independence. I’m f–kin’ proud of what I’ve accomplished.

Tulip Garden

^tulip garden in the UWS, circa April 2015

And I’ve learned this too, beautifully put by a friend on Facebook a month ago: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.” I’ve been witness to this circumstance, and with every emotion amplified in NYC, it makes for a remarkable, emotionally charged life. The intensity of life here drives everything home so much harder. You’re forced to…feel. I don’t consider myself an emotional person, but some of that has changed in the past year. And it makes the tough times tougher and the good times better. And the past 12 months were full of a whole lot of both.

But it’s not about the past; it’s about the present and the future. Darius Rucker sums it up well: “For every stoplight I didn’t make, every chance I did or I didn’t take; all the nights I went too far, all the girls that broke my heart; all the doors that I had to close; everything I knew but I didn’t know…thank G-d for all I missed, cuz it led me here to this.” Hard to believe it’s been a year, and I’m proud of the person I am today and how much I’ve grown in 12 months.

Highlights of the year:

  • The Stanley Cup playoffs (summer 2014): I arrived in NYC when the Washington Capitals had narrowly missed the playoffs in April 2014. Jumping on the bandwagon, I was pumped about landing in a hockey town, (reluctantly) rooting for the New York Rangers as they advanced to the final round of the playoffs.
  • The Stanley Cup playoffs (summer 2015): The tables have turned. Wearing my jersey and rooting for the Washington Capitals in two phenomenal rounds — first against the New York Islanders and then against the New York Rangers, both series going to spectacular, nail-biter game 7s. You’ve never lived until you’re rooting for your home team in enemy territory in game 7 overtime.
  • Watching Grease on the beach in Coney Island
  • Spending weekends at my cousins because of the newfound close proximity
  • The entirety of summer 2014
  • Traveling to SF for the company’s holiday week in December
  • Spending 70% of my weekends in my friends’ Queens apartment
  • Listening to music on the subway that I knew would make me cry during two rough months because I’m a glutton for punishment
  • Going to bars alone. Highly recommended.
  • Learning to work hard for something you really, really want.

Elton John, it may be true that rose trees never grow in NYC, but we were never promised a rose garden. And the tulips that explode in magnificent bursts of painted streaks across the city in late April? I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

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Weekend Recap

It really is the “little things” in life.

After 25 hours of fasting, and then tanking up, I felt unbelievably motivated and energized, and couldn’t wait for the week to begin so that I could jumpstart everything I had to do. I was finally able to trim my bangs, which made me incredibly happy because they are no longer long, limp, strands of hair falling in my face. 
 
Then this morning I found a praying mantis on the window. These unique little critters sit and “pray” for hours at a time. We can probably take a lesson, eh?
 
After I prayed next to the praying mantis on the window, I FINALLY listened to music. For some reason, these past three weeks have felt longer than every sefira of my life combined. The first song? Piano Man. After last Shabbat’s “in-home-concert” lunch, I’ve been craving Billy Joel’s music. (For some reason we were musically-inspired last week: as a family we sang oldies songs, country, and any other family favorites around the table, and as a last-ditch attempt we’ve been listening to these songs in the acapella version. It kills it.) 
Next song? Summer Highland Falls. Two of the best, ever. Hands down. 
 
Oh, and laundry! How could I forget the joys of abundant clean clothes? 
 
All of these things are adding to up to one big happy camper! 🙂
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(Not the best picture, but it gives you an idea.)