Springtime in New York
Spring took its sweet time arriving in the city this year, but the cherries are finally in full bloom and it’s supposed to be 88 here on Thursday (too soon!). Each season has its positives and negatives, but spring in the city holds a special significance for me. Six years ago, it was among the tulips in Central Park and under the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that I mentally made the decision to move to New York.
I had lived in Ohio for all of my 26 years and wanted to be anywhere but there for most of those years. I stayed of my own volition for several reasons—some made more sense than others, especially in hindsight—but New York was never far from my mind. I didn’t have any illusions that a move would fundamentally change me, however, and I tried to have a realistic view of New York’s power to “fix” my life. But I was deeply unhappy.
Uprooting my entire life seemed overwhelming, but it became clear to me on that visit to New York that I needed a drastic change. I jokingly blame Ohio for all of my problems because it’s an easy target, but I take full responsibility for all of the choices that I made to keep me there. I don’t regret anything that I’ve done in my life (even all of those college haircuts) because it’s a monumental waste of my energy and I firmly believe in valuing all of your experiences even—or maybe especially—the challenging ones.
The purpose of that spring trip to New York was an innocuous one—my friend Trent had just completed watching every Meryl Streep movie, and he invited me to attend a Devil Wear’s Prada viewing party. We made Lemon(y Snicket’s) Bars and Hope Spring(s) Rolls and I never imagined that I would have such a personal awakening on a trip that also included me drunk texting everyone I knew and passing out earlier than everyone else in attendance (never invite me to a drinking game). But that’s how these things happen—drastic changes aren’t actually so drastic when you realize that they actually happen very slowly, and then, suddenly all at once.
My New York move was anything but sudden—I didn’t actually move until July of the following year—but every spring I’m reminded of how I felt sitting beneath the blooming cherry trees. It’s cliché to say that I felt myself coming alive again along with the city, but sometimes life really does feel like the movies. The challenges ahead of me at that time were more difficult and exhausting than I ever could have predicted, but in the end I made it through every single one of them—stronger and more grateful than I ever thought I could be.
Six years later, I recognize now that New York didn’t save my life—I did that. I made a choice to be happy, to seek out the joyful things in life, to stop apologizing for who I was and to start cultivating the life I wanted. It’s easy for me to get caught up in daily annoyances and to feel anxious when everything is going smoothly. But every spring I can’t help but be reminded that we are in charge of a large portion of our lives and that we make our own happiness—and when I'm feeling stagnant I now understand that everything eventually blooms again, but only when it's ready.