When we told people we were moving to New York City, we generally received one of two responses:
- Oh, finally! Congrats.
- What? Why? I couldn’t do that.
But anyone who knows me knows my obsession for this city. And if I were to be completely honest with you, the reason I came back was to prove something to myself.
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to live here. The bright lights, big buildings, the allure of doing anything and everything you’ve ever dreamed of. I applied to hundreds of internships in college and finally convinced my parents to let me go.
The only problem was the city itself. It was big and scary, and I was small and naive. So my parents did the best they could and found a connection through a family friend. They set me up in a quaint apartment, and soon, I was on my way.
…To a complete and utter nightmare. The two-bedroom apartment in Queens was shared by four family members during the week and five on weekends. The place hadn’t been cleaned in many, many years, and it was infested with rats and cockroaches. I called my parents in hysterics, but at this point, it was too late. Where else would I live? I had to stick it out.
The next five months were a blur. I woke up at the crack of dawn each morning, sometimes to a cockroach or two in my bed, to beat the rest of the apartment to the bathroom. I worked my tail off at my internship, received a title I didn’t deserve and often stayed later to prove my commitment. On my days off I did schoolwork and applied to jobs. I never did anything touristy and was lucky if I could afford dinner. It was grueling and tiring and for the first time, I understood the meaning of hunger. Not hunger in a physical sense, but in the sense that I always wanted more. Even though I was miserable and lonely and drained, I wanted to make something of myself.
And I think I learned more about the world and myself in those five months than I would have anywhere else at any other time. My internship is the one conversation starter item on my resume, the one that everyone always asks about. I tell them what I’m telling you now: the best and worst months of my life. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
So yes, I’m back. To actually enjoy New York City, to live in peace and quiet and cleanliness, to share adventures with Blake and my friends. To live the life I expected to live, only now I’m mature enough to know that there will be plenty of hardships.
And I can’t wait for them to break me then make me… the way they did back then.