We are all at summer camp

28 Jul

[An excerpt from my first book, Two Years in New York City]

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Did you move to NYC to stay for good? One year? Five?

New York City is full of more different people than I ever could have imagined back in suburbia. The one thing the thousands of 20-something transplants here have in common? We all know we’re going home someday.
We might refer to New York City as home in a this-is-where-I-lay-my-head context, but for most of my friends, our deepest definition of the word means something else entirely.

As much as I have loved the past two years, I have always known my time here has a shelf life. (Inasmuch as we can plan our lives that meticulously, anyway.) It’s funny how people, especially young people, put an expiration sticker on New York City. I’ve never seen that done anywhere else—at least not with such consistency.

While we’re here, we sleep in spaces no bigger than dorm rooms; drink wine out of jelly jars; stammer at subways that never arrive; and have access to every kind of food, music and personality we could ever want. Some days we can’t wait to go. Some days we wonder how we could ever leave.

In only two years, I’ve said goodbye to many friends whose numbers, they decided, were up. In true summer camp fashion, we said tearful goodbyes and promised to write. But unlike those weeks earning merit badges by a lake, we weren’t ever told when to leave here. We choose for ourselves, and everyone’s estimated time of departure is different.

The “I survived New York City” may be a badge we hesitate to earn, because it’s then that we know this phase and level of life is complete. That day will hold equal parts of pride and sadness.

That said, my love affair with New York never has to cease, and at the other end of this tunnel, I will have family, new friends, real wine glasses, affordable cereal, and maybe even a big red couch again.

I don’t know when I’ll come home, but I do know I’ll come home when I’m ready. For now, there’s still standing room with my name on it.

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3 Responses to “We are all at summer camp”

  1. emma 07/28 at 11:44 am #

    I can’t wait for affordable cereal. In fact, I’m not waiting for it any longer, I’m going to order it from amazon. Hey, I’m a New Yorker 🙂

  2. Sarah Protzman 07/28 at 11:56 am #

    That’s a big one for me, too. Try the dented cans/boxes section at the grocery store. That’s where I get mine — half off!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why I left NYC: A reflection on three perfect years | NewNewYorkers - 02/09

    […] arrived on my own terms, and I left on my own terms, and that was always the plan. I didn’t flee because I was sick of the grind, getting too old, or so over Manhattan. Why […]

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