I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with New York. 2015 was my seventh year in the concrete jungle and although at times I had felt the spark that would make me want to stay, it dissipated before I could fully capture and store the feeling. After years of complaining about feeling stuck, I finally decided to go through my third TCK move. It’s a move I have been planning for over two years – to find an MBA program in Europe and leave the U.S. for good –a plan that remarkably worked.
After two gruesome attempts at the GMAT, several night business classes and months of essay planning I finally got into the school of my choice. Late December last year I found out that I’m leaving.
I’m finally leaving.
I guess I had always thought of it as a dramatic moment in my mind, a moment where I get rid of all the burdens and stress of New York and feel liberated – but I didn’t feel that way. In fact, I didn’t feel anything. I thought maybe it just hadn’t hit me, maybe I would feel something when I got closer to the date. That didn’t happen either – the days passed by without me realizing.
People asked me what was on my bucket list and I honestly didn’t have much. I had done all the touristy things and had come to terms with the fact that you just cannot cover ALL of New York. All I really wanted to do was laze at home with the people I will miss the most. I forced myself to go out and take pictures, to visit all my favorite restaurants, to seriously consider what I would miss and to some extent was sad to find that I honestly didn’t have a clear answer – was I going to miss New York?
I’ve always felt a pressure to love New York, as if it was a stupid thing not to. I didn’t understand what it was that made the city less like home and maybe I never will. There were days when I was genuinely grateful for what it had given me, the people and experiences did make it seem like the greatest city in the world, but I always wanted to leave. Weirdly enough, it was in these two years that I spent planning to leave that I finally got over my feeling of being stuck. The idea of staying in NYC long term didn’t seem as daunting – had New York almost become home?
I spent weeks trying to figure out the right goodbye to a city that has been so instrumental in my professional and personal growth but my last month whizzed past me without giving me the chance to do so. I spent my last few days applying for visas, finding a sublet, figuring out bank accounts, selling furniture to creeps on craigslist, organizing reunions in loud dim lit bars and binge watching House of Cards on Netflix while packing and re-packing my life.
It’s been more than three months since I left New York and came back to my family home in Istanbul and I can’t say I miss it yet. I am still waiting for some emotion to take hold of me whether it be relief, excitement, nostalgia or even regret – anything to make me feel an emotional connect to New York. Maybe it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m not going back…Or maybe I did say a proper goodbye to New York. Isn’t being unnecessarily busy and stressed the right tribute to the city, down to arriving at the airport an hour late due to rush hour traffic. The perfect goodbye to a city that is too busy to feel its own pulse.
Once in a conversation with my work brother I said something about how I sometimes fear that my confrontational and slightly aggressive personality alienates people. He stopped me before I could go any further. He said, ‘True friends understand who you are, if you are aggressive they will love you for being so.’ People accept you with your faults if they truly love you, if they don’t – one flaw is more than enough to judge. That’s where I am with New York. There is not much wrong with it, but I can’t get past holding the few faults it has against it. An acquaintance I judge for no reason, a placeholder boyfriend in a relationship where there is nothing to complain about really, but then there is nothing to be overjoyed about either.
So, Dear New York – I am breaking up with you. It’s not you, it’s me. I tried time and again to reconnect with you, re-kindle a spark, but couldn’t. Sometimes you click, sometimes you don’t. It’s neither of our faults, we’re just not meant to be. And to complete the clichés – We can be friends?