In November, my professor Maureen Corrigan (who is the most impressive person I’ve met thus far and my role model) took my entire Literature of New York City class to the Lower East Side, where we embarked on a walking tour (courtesy of the Big Onion Walking Tour company) and had an hour of free time. Aside from my aversion to lengthy car and bus rides, the trip was wonderful and actually cathartic.
Going back to New York presented me with a peculiar mélange of emotions: mirth, sadness, excitement, nostalgia. I felt at peace and at home once I saw the Manhattan skyline, yet felt inauthentic and detached knowing that I wasn’t living there anymore. In a weird way, I almost felt guilty about not living in Manhattan. I don’t know if the dreary weather added to my disappointment and sadness, but I know that I longed for another New York summer.
Ironically enough, we drove into the Lower East Side through Centre and hit my intersection from last summer: Broome and Centre. The second I saw my former NYU residence, my spirits lifted even higher and I whipped out my phone to take a picture. So many memories flooded back in my mind and I felt transported back in time. I felt proud knowing that I lived there for a summer and that that‘s when I truly became a New Yorker in spirit.
During our free time after the guided tour, I was in the exact area of SoHo where I lived last summer, so I decided to wander a little bit and revisit my favorite spots. Two other girls from the class were with me and we all thought it wise to grab something to eat/drink before the imminent four hour bus ride back to Georgetown. My first thought was the Jamba Juice right around the corner from the Haute Living offices so we walked over. Walking the same route I used to take from my apartment to my internship brought back such nostalgia: seeing the same boutiques and cafés, knowing the right number of blocks to walk and then turn onto, recognizing the same construction sites. Passing by the office building made me feel so happy and complete, as though my experience were brought full-circle.
Manhattan is a strange place. At the same time, it can make you feel on top of the world and totally insignificant. You can think you’re having the time of your life or wasting away the moments with nothingness. You either cling to its magnetic hold or eschew its absurd, unique ways. There were times during this past summer when I felt incomplete, lonely, dissatisfied, and just plain sad. But there were more times when I felt fulfilled, exciting, ecstatic, adventurous, accomplished. Never before New York did I feel so lost and so comfortable at the same time. Never before New York did I feel so little and so large at the same time. Never before New York did I feel so empty and so full at the same time.
That’s why I know I can’t live anywhere other than New York.