New York has been my home, my identity, my anchor and my ball and chain for so many years – even before I moved, since I was 6 or 7, I WAS MOVING TO MANHATTAN. It was HAPPENING. And now that I’ve been here for so many years, chased the exact picture of my life I’d created in my head so many years ago, and am now leaving, I keep waiting for these waves of fear/loathing/regret to start rolling over me… and they just haven’t come. I think I’ve somehow (admittedly much MUCH much differently than I originally visualized) lived the life I was meant to here and am truly, finally ready for the next chapter, which is honestly SO unlike me. Decision making and being ‘sure’ about anything are not exactly my forte, so I wasn’t 100% trusting this feeling of resounding ‘YES’. However, we were home (there’s that word again) in Cleveland this last week, and I was thrown by the difference in what I usually feel when I’m there, too, so something has obviously changed.
I’ve always felt so torn between my ‘real’ home, Ohio, and my self-inflicted (but I’m not bitter, ha) home, New York, but now that my tenure in the city is all but over it feels markedly different somehow. Everything feels so much clearer – I no longer ‘have’ to be anywhere, and all of my options are open. All of my ‘you’ll be a failure if you don’t do x and achieve y blah blah blah’ that have driven my depression for so long are falling away, and moving away from the city that was the heart of so much of that is helping me leave all of that bullshit behind, too. A fresh start in Austin soon, a return home to the CLE later, leaving behind the expectations and preconceived notions of a city that shaped who I am but is most definitely part of my past and not my present now, all of it just feels so necessary, so RIGHT. I’m very used to feeling a *thud* of dread while descending through the sky back to LaGuardia and away from family – usually the ‘anxiety and stress’ switch flips back on and the constantly running to-do list in my head resumes, but this time was totally different. Calm was the number one feeling throughout me. And even though we had to break through a rather scary band of storms, once we got through them the clouds broke and the realization that this was probably the last time we’d fly into that city washed over Tom & I. Both were beautiful.
Even when we were flying to Cleveland a week earlier with delays so ridiculous they made me chew my boarding pass,
there was just something different.
Something that, I think, has to do with the realization that ‘home’ isn’t necessarily a geographical place as much as it is the people in your heart that can make ANY place home. From my mama, my heart and my twin in so many (sometimes scary) ways,
to my brother and his beautiful family of an amazing wife and daughter that I am beyond obsessed with (so much so that I changed my first poopy diaper and I DIDN’T EVEN MIND because it was HERS, even her poop is somehow almost cute),
to Tom, my partner and my best friend, my rock, my light, and my umbrella (ella ella) on those rainy days of the heart,
and the other members of what I’m going to call my ‘home team’ – wherever they are, I am home. Cleveland, Austin, Asheville, Nashville, or Butztown, PA (real place, swear), it’s not about where you are at all. I was the one who imposed all of that stress and negativity on New York, and I am the one who now realizes that you choose what and where is right for you. Limitations are self-imposed. You’re never stuck. You’re never stranded. As long as I’m where I need to be and my ‘home team’ is a room, a town, or a phone call away, all is well. I guess I’m really on the right path, finally… and ‘home is where the heart is’ isn’t just another bullshit adage after all.