I am a former Western girl and temporarily retired lawyer who has lived in the big City for seven years. In three more years I think I can officially call myself a New Yorker.
I grew up in the small town of Greybull, Wyoming. When I say “small” I mean small in the sense that it had a tiny population of only 1500 people, but also that it was extremely isolated. You had to travel an hour for fast food, which was a real treat. There was no movie theater, only one restaurant, and virtually no stores. I had a great, even idyllic, childhood, but grew tired of Wyoming years before I was able to leave. I had lived through too many sub 30 degree winters. I had seen enough dead deer in my parent’s garage. I was ready for something new. I studied both Spanish and German and longed to travel. So, as soon as I graduated from high school I went to the most exotic, vibrant, cosmopolitan place I had ever been: The University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. There I met many students who were from New York City and were so bored with Rochester. “There is nothing to do!” they would wail and many of them were back at St. John’s or NYU before the semester was out. I could not understand this. There were movie theaters. Restaurants with tablecloths. People of different races and religions. The population on campus was double that of my town. The population of Rochester was half of the entire state of Wyoming. I was having the time of my life!
Years later I followed a boyfriend (now husband) to New York City and began to understand what those students were complaining about. I still love Rochester, but once you have lived in New York City, nothing compares to it. There is an energy and a boundless optimism that pervades the City. You can wake up in the morning without a plan for your day and fall into bed at the end of it having experienced something entirely new and unexpected.
I have my complaints about living in an expensive, cramped city, but the truth is this is the only place that has really felt like “home” since I was a child living in Wyoming – and I’ve lived in many different places around the globe. Unfortunately, the reality is that I live here with a husband and two children in a small two-bedroom apartment and the suburbs are calling. I am resisting that call for as long as possible, but just in case we end up leaving this gorgeous City, I want to preserve my memories of all that I loved and what I will miss most. Just in case I have to say “goodbye, New York.”