“Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”~ Excerpt from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A year ago today I left my mom’s house in South Carolina after a sleepover and a quick nostalgic breakfast of homemade Oatmeal and started on the long drive to New York with my faithful sidekicks, a teenager and her 5 lb. Chihuahua. The SUV was packed with all of the things that didn’t fit in the moving van from blankets to flat screen TVs. A spontaneous move for the most part, one I didn’t have time to truly prepare for in the end. And maybe that was for the best—maybe it was the only way.
People ask if I miss Florida. I do. I miss the palm trees and the sandhill cranes. I miss friends. I miss wide open spaces. A big house. A backyard. Driving. The beach. Okay, and the Chick-fil-A drive-thru.
New York is a different world. In many ways you allow it to push you along like a current, working hard to stay above water, but understanding and respecting the immensity of it all. I order groceries online. I walk the dog and see the Chrysler Building. I have new friends. I eat brunch. I hail cabs. I ride a tram. I see celebrities. And act like I don’t. (Okay, except that one time.) I walk fast, really fast. I tolerate tourists. I wear scarves. I own more than one sweater. I subscribe to New York Magazine. I watch the city from my roof.
That first night we arrived, it started to snow. I hadn’t seen snow in years, and it stunned me. As I stared out of my bedroom window, I watched the fluffy white flakes dance in the light of the Queensboro Bridge and cried. This was my New York, the beauty and mystery that Fitzgerald wrote about in Gatsby, and I had no idea how or where I would fit in.
Little by little I understood; that’s what New York does. It puts you in your place the moment you step onto the sidewalk, slaps you with a dose of reality. It dictates life in many ways, pushing you, prodding you. Until one day you just get it. Some days you push back and some you go with the flow. And then you start to realize you’re becoming a New Yorker with every step. And it’s a proud moment.
I still stare out of my window at the mighty Queensboro every day—I smile, I gaze, I contemplate, I wish for a little snow. But I don’t cry.