After several trips to Salvation Army, FedEx, USPS and a shout-out to friends for household give-aways I’m down to my last box.
Today I’m saying my goodbyes to life in the Big Apple.
How do I feel about finally leaving my city racetrack lifestyle?
Packer’s Remorse: The Art of Moving on and Letting Go
Moving is not a fresh theme to me; but while I am practiced in “The Art of Moving On”, my current move reminds me that I’ve still not mastered “The Art of Letting Go”. When packing for work or travel, my primary goal is whittling my packing list to fit a temporary lifestyle, which will sustain my daily travel needs. This is easy.
Packing for a permanent move however, poses a greater challenge.
A ratty pair of running shoes, a water-warped stack of old birthday cards, books and gift trinkets – EVERYTHING that’s “seemingly junk” masquerades as a souvenir. Prioritizing “practicalities” shift as the guilt of letting go arises– a cheesy $5 souvenir “I love NY” t-shirt takes precedence over an LCD HDTV! (I sold my TV to my roommate and kept the shirt)
Perhaps the Art of Letting Go is simply mastered through The Art of Not Collecting…
Can I keep my urban warrior armor as a souvenir?
After 8+ years, I admit to harboring conflicting love-hate feelings for this city; just as I would a marriage determined by irate pedestrians, subway cars packed with pushy strap-hangers and a daily regimen of composing mental lists and urban survival strategies. While I will gladly trade my N.Y.C. push-dodge-“huff” demeanor for a lifestyle where “smiling, light and fluffy” might be a possibility; another part of me is reluctant to leave the protective folds of this community and the urban fighter I’ve become…
So I recently updated my Facebook status –
“… last minute jam-packing now. All this N.Y.C. armor surpasses the 50lb bag limit. Thinking- next time I come to NY will be as a tourist …”
A friend commented back-
“… you cant be a tourist in NY… You can come back to visit, yes, but tourist … no, sorry… Once a NY’er; always a NY’er. You can take the kid out of NY, but not NY out of the kid.”
(Thanks, I appreciated that) 😉
On Becoming a New Yorker:
– You must become the city in order to survive it
For a gentle Pacific Island dreamer and artist like myself, moving to N.Y.C. was like an induction into military boot camp! Cold, hard, fast, ambitious, ruthless… every negative cliché rumored around this powerhouse megalopolis weighed true. Being a naïve island girl raised to be courteous and polite, I felt like my transformation was teaching me how to snarl, snap or bite. But in actuality, the city was teaching me to redefine my personality with a necessary edge that helped me survive its energy, environment and lifestyle.
Calculating, commanding, efficient, driven, precise…The city’s “dark side“ pushes you embrace its surprisingly positive and empowering flipside.
– ”If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”
“Only the strong survive” is the city’s motto and it sums up its proud promise. The concrete jungle can be a raging beast, fast-balling you with lessons of all shapes and sizes- from managing crazy clients with excessive expectations and emergency deadlines, to mastering a typhoon of many things going wrong all at once! It will test your levels of fitness, endurance and execution, as you learn to juggle extremes to deliver a standard of excellence. The city is known as having the best and brightest; in fact, it creates them!
If you’re not strong upon your arrival here, it’s something the city will definitely build –or beat– into you by the time you leave it.
– ‘Being hardened’ is a badge of honor to an urban warrior.
Cleaning out my bathroom cabinet, I discovered a box of shameful pedestrian secrets I’d never admit to as a 30 year old: shoe, arch & heel insoles, corn pads, foot relief gels and Epson salts! As a working metaphor, this reinforces the on-going belief that “Living in N.Y.C. is not easy” and that you will learn to tolerate its pain, until you find” that right pair of shoes” (or learn to carry a second pair in your bag)!
New Yorkers claim that after your 3rd year, you’ve earned the rite of passage into its community. You (and your peds) have grown a calloused skin; and “living the dream” is now replaced by “walking its ‘fact’”—a lifestyle of tightly-composed strategies and focused executions taking you from Point A to Z in the most efficient and direct manner. You become the city- you find ease on the pedestrian highway of high stakes and ambitions. Moreover, you have the battle scars of a proud fighter and recognize there’s privilege in pain.
– There’s no room for “Cry Babies”.
While America indulges in its own reality TV show personas of personal dramas, tears, fears and fits; you won’t find New Yorkers prone to displays of emotional excess. It’s not that they lack human tear ducts or heart, but for 8.36 million resilient career soldiers, time is of a slick essence. Extremely stressful situations are successfully juggled on a daily basis; and “emotions” are neither, energy/time compatible nor cost-efficient in offering practical solutions.
Adopting a heads-on “deal with it” attitude allows the urban warrior to clear obstacles from their path. Rain, sleet or snow, sprained ankles or severe leg cramps, only three types of people persevere tirelessly despite personal setbacks – the mailman, the athlete and the average New Yorker.
– The NYC mind is like an Energizer Bunny on crack.
There is a thread running through each New Yorker’s racetrack lifestyle- it’s obsessed with time. Like an Energizer Bunny impatiently set at warp-speed, many efforts are made to “crunch time”.
New Yorkers prefer a language that is direct and cuts to the chase. Being successful at mental acrobatics, their minds can process facts quickly, based on little information. Long-winded talkers are a sure-fire death by snore. As a NYer, you “troubleshoot” this obstacle by editing what you hear…
Here are examples:
The Run-on Talker: “You know, I’m uh…going to the store to…uh, you know, I was starved from just having worked out at the gym where my personal coach said. …(yadda, yadda, snooore … impatience is building)…so I’m thinking of going to the Food Emporium by my apartment to buy some food and then…”
Standard English: “I am going to go to the store to buy some food”
ESL: I go store. I buy food.
Hawaii Pidgin: I go store fo’ buy food.
NYC ESL: Store. Food.
In order to “get to the point”, you wipe the transitions and action verbs. For New Yorkers, effective communication states destinations and end goals.
– Inside The New Yorker Bible:
As with all cities, there is a community camaraderie and shared understanding which governs the NYC M.O. Here are some of them:
1- You are expected to push and fight for EVERYTHING (a place in line, your way at customer service, the subway, career opportunities…)
2- Never walk around something if you can push you way through it.
3- There is never enough time in the day to do all that you want, but still you try.
4- Sleeping in on the weekends is nothing to congratulate yourself for or admit to.
5- The world would be a better place without “indecisive people” (or tourists that stop in the middle of the sidewalk).
6- Impossible does not exist (and if it does, is either hypothetical or used as an example of how other cities run).
7- The deadline was (and always) will be “Yesterday” and there are no excuses.
8- Most of your NYC lifetime will be spent climbing stairs- literally and metaphorically.
9- Each person has a closet Type A personality and it lives through “mental checklists”.
10- New Yorkers “engineer” structurally-sound ways to ensure their dreams are executed properly and with precision; Dreamers fly their dreams like kites...with string.
11- Juggling at least two career lives is standard.
12- Your motto is “Live to Work” (not vice-versa).