Friday, April 11, 2014

Where I Am Now

"If ever there were a time that I need to 'go for it' and take chances, that time is now."

Famous last words.

Nevertheless, that's the mindset I'm clinging to right now. Not by nature or because of some kind of indomitable optimism, but by self-imposed will. I think that I'm simply determined to not let my fear get the best of me. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of taking risks. In many ways, it scares the crap out of me to leave everything I know and move to a huge city with few real friends or family.

I am aware of the fact that I romanticize New York City, as if it were some kind of shangri-la or heaven on earth. It isn't. I know this. Yet, I refuse to let go of the wide-eyed awe and wonder that I've had for the city since I was three-years-old. Any doubts that New York City is not a perfect urban utopia can easily be removed by spending a lot of time on Bowery during weekends. In my experience, Bowery is a mecca for more douchebaggery than I ever thought could take place within one mile north and south of East Houston Street.

If experiencing that a few times doesn't convince you, spend a lot of time in Bushwick during the winter; when the streets and sidewalks are separated by four-foot high mounds of dirty black snow and garbage for what seems like the length every city block. This, and the fact that there are enough swarthy silhouettes and dubious characters walking nearby to ensure that you're almost certain you'll be mugged at some point in the very near future, should do it.

These realities sometimes make it difficult for me to tell if my opinions about New York City are a genuine representation of my intrinsic perceptions, or if they're a romanticized creation of my own imagination.  I've wanted to live and experience life in New York City for so long that it feels like I'd be betraying myself if I didn't jump on the opportunity to actually become a New Yorker. I'm not a stubborn person by nature, but I am about this for some reason.

Now that I live here, I have to ask myself, "Am I simply creating this narrative in my mind of where I want my life to go?" As if my feelings about the city might be the results of a fictional story that my subconscious mind has created, and my life is the means by which I am trying to create a manifestation of this fictional story. I sometimes wonder.

In any case, enough of that for now. Here are a few things that have taken place in my life, for those interested in reading. To recap, I stopped actively looking for employment in New York City for over a year. I settled into life in a new neighborhood, one that is very walkable, with nearly everything I could need close by. I've lived close to everything great that Fort Lauderdale (FL) has to offer, residing about a mile from the beach. The antithesis of the suburbs. And, my rent has been super cheap. I've been quite content with living in Fort Lauderdale for a long time since moving closer to the beach.

Yet, life is constantly happening around us. The tide sometimes brings new things to our shores. Sometimes they're good things, sometimes they aren't. In my case, the tide brought me someone to love. In August of 2014, I began chatting online with a girl who lives in Brooklyn. At first, we both thought nothing would come of our conversations because of the physical distance between us. But our relationship took an unexpected turn for the better without either of us realizing that it would happen.

The more we got to know each other, the more we realized how much of a great match for each other we are. Our connection grew quickly. Our personalities fit each other perfectly and we see the world in much the same way. Our thoughts and feelings are so in tune, it's as if we've known each other our whole lives. After a few weeks, we couldn't resist meeting in person. It felt right, and we felt compelled to spend quality face-time together.

So I booked a trip to New York City for September 11th, 2013. I booked a hotel for the first night, but she insisted I stay with her for the remainder of the trip, which I was thrilled about. Our first date was at Booker and Dax, which is a great bar that is part of several Momofuku brand locations. It's an amazing place. They use new techniques and technologies to rethink and create new versions of classic drinks.

Despite some initial nervousness, which was mutual, we both settled in and had a great night. We really hit it off and connected that night. Things went so well, we were holding hands by the time we left, and I invited her to stay with me instead of taking the train home. We both wanted to spend more time together. I could tell by her facial expressions and body language that she was happy and comfortable, and the feeling was mutual. She spent the night and we simply went to sleep basically wrapped around each other. It felt so natural, as if we had been a couple already for years. The next day, we both knew that we wanted to be together. It was that simple. We just knew.

Fast-forward a few months and several extended visits. I stayed with her for two weeks every month, on average. By the time December came around, we decided we simply couldn't live without each other. So, we made a plan. Either she would sublet her room for the remainder of her lease and come live with me in Florida, or I would move to New York City and live with her.

I took the initiative. I had started sharing the details of my new relationship with my boss, with whom I have a very good relationship, from the beginning. Surely, my boss had begun to see the writing on the wall and where things were going after a few months. Fortunately, the job I have is one that can be done while working from home, and I eventually requested to work from on a home full-time basis, so that I could relocate to New York City and live with my girlfriend.

After several anxious weeks of waiting for the approval from the powers that be, I got the news. It was approved. I immediately called my girlfriend with excitement to tell her the news. "Guess what?" I said. "I'M MOVING TO NEW YORK CITY!" It seemed like such a surreal thing to say. Despite hearing the news, I still didn't want to get ahead of myself. "I'll get excited when it actually happens" I told myself.

In the months that have passed between then and now, we thought it might be nice for her to get away from the bitter New York City winter this year, so she came to Florida for a few days. But I had a surprise for her. I bought an engagement ring, and decided to propose marriage. We had discussed it many times over the past few months, and I already knew we both wanted that. It feels right. It feels like we belong together. So, I took her to the beach and we brought a bottle of wine. A nice, quiet evening of good conversation with the sound of the ocean in our ears and the sight of beautiful colors in the sky at dusk. I brought the ring, in case the moment was right.

The perfect moment did indeed present itself, and I asked her right there on the beach with ring in hand. And now we're engaged to be married.

At this point, I'm waiting for the announcement from work on a date to move, which I'm expecting in mid-April.

All of that said, it looks like I will finally be a New Yorker sometime in May, 2014. I'm happy and excited, nervous and scared, all at the same time. This will be a big undertaking with a lot of change for both of us. But it's a change I've been waiting for, for a long time. It's everything I've wanted and more. I never expected to have such a special relationship already in place upon arriving to the city that I've referred to as my Shangri-La for so long.

This is where it all gets real. This is where my romantic notions of New York City will be tested. I'm anticipating that it will be difficult for a while. New York City is a place where you really need to make good money to truly experience all the great things it has to offer, in my opinion. That doesn't mean there aren't many amazing experiences to be had there with a middle-class income; but working toward increasing my annual salary will only help ensure that we are able to fully enjoy all the great things the New York City has to offer.

In any case, no matter what happens, it's clear that the opportunity to live my dream has finally arrived. And I will do everything I can to make the best of it. I welcome the many experiences and adventures yet to come.

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