In the 5 months that I have lived in NYC, I have not spent many of my weekends here (cue a raised-eyebrow “You don’t say?” from my co-workers, who often see me lugging my weekend travel bag into the office on Fridays). In fact, I can probably count the number of weekends on one hand. I don’t regret that; it’s just the way it is (I refuse to say the overused, “It is what it is” in this situation even though I realize that in saying I’m not saying it, I actually did).
Ahem. Carrying on…
It’s just that my priorities usually took me elsewhere each Friday evening through Sunday night. And when I say Sunday night, I mean it.
At the beginning of my time here, I would take the 6:20 PM or 7:20 PM Amtrak train back to NYC, getting in around 10, and when I started taking the bus, I would either take the 6 PM or the 8 PM, getting in, depending on traffic, anywhere between 10 and midnight. So I didn’t exactly have leisure time to wind down and relax on Sundays.
I felt rushed the entire day, knowing I was on a deadline, and then once I got back to NYC, it was basically try-to-hit-the-pillow-right-away-so-you’re-not-a-zombie-in-a-few-hours (the rate of success of which was admittedly low and I was usually, in fact, at least part zombie on Monday mornings).
But yesterday was different.
Because I had planned to meet the person who will be subletting my apartment at 3:30 PM to talk details and sign the agreement, I had to take the 11 AM bus back to NYC. And while at first this bummed me out because it meant leaving so much earlier than usual, it ended up being a pleasant experience, one that ended up reaffirming some of the reasons why I had moved to the city, and in particular, my neighborhood, in the first place.
The bus arrived at Port Authority at 3 PM (never mind that it really shouldn’t have taken us 4 hours to get from Providence to NYC in absolutely NO TRAFFIC – that’s a different post on a different day when there’s a little more distance between me and my experience with Peter Pan Bus Lines). The cab dropped me off at my apartment about 25 minutes later, and that was the first time I really noticed that there was something different about getting back to my apartment on this particular Sunday.
It was light out, for one. But also? There were lots of people walking around. It wasn’t just a random person here and there… there were people walking together, pushing strollers. My little neighborhood is on the Upper East Side, so it’s not like Times Square, where it’s always packed and everything is open 24/7. So to see that the cafe across from my apartment, the grocery store down the street, the pizza shop around the corner were all still open as I made my way home on a Sunday was quite the sight!
It really reminded me of the day I found my apartment. I forget what my Dad had going on that day (because he would never voluntarily not come on an apartment-hunting venture with any of his kids), but it was just me, my Mom and Brian. Brian and I had not even yet declared ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend, although we had been spending a lot of time together and each of us definitely knew how the other felt. I had two appointments set up with roommates in Midtown on the West Side and one set up with a roommate on the Upper East Side. One of the girls I met on the West Side was someone I totally clicked with, but I realized somewhere during those three meetings that not only would I prefer living on the Upper East Side because of its proximity to where I’d be working, but also that I would really rather live on my own.
Meanwhile, Brian just calmly sat in the back seat of the car as my Mom not-so-calmly traversed Manhattan trying to keep our schedule. (Driving from one side of the city to the other when Central Park is closed to traffic isn’t the easiest of tasks.) When we needed to park illegally so that Mom and I could go meet potential roommates and see potential apartments, Brian graciously offered to stay in the car in case any parking police came by.
By the time I figured out that I wanted to look at places without roommates, it was getting to be the afternoon and we were all hungry. I had found a studio that looked nice on Craigslist, and I made an appointment to meet the broker. With about an hour to kill, Mom, Brian and I went to a cafe across from the apartment. It was a beautiful late summer day, so we sat outside in the sun. And I remember just falling in love with the neighborhood.
It was quiet yet active. Peaceful yet bustling. Quaint but city. People were walking around… families pushing strollers, couples walking dogs, kids skateboarding on the sidewalks. I hoped that the apartment gave me the same kind of “home” feeling, and as soon as I walked in, I knew that it did. It was the first place Brian was actually able to see that day – no longer banished to the car since we were able to find a legal parking space. And we all agreed that it was the best place – location-wise (see previous comments), convenience-wise (10 blocks from work) and sanity-wise (living! by! myself!).
And yesterday was the first time I found myself seeing my neighborhood through that lens again. It was another peaceful, sunny weekend day just like it had been 5 months prior. I wasn’t rushing home from work. I wasn’t thinking about what I was going to order make for dinner. I wasn’t freezing my butt off and just trying to make it from the cab to my door as quickly as possible. It was nice.
But not so nice that it takes back my decision to move back home… just nice enough to put a wonderful end to my time here. Because the graciousness and calmness and accommodativeness that Brian showed that day? That, I’ve come to realize, is just who he is. He is a wonderful person who makes me truly, truly happy and content when I am with him… but being with him is an impossibility when I am in New York.
It’s funny, because on the way home from NYC that day back in September, Brian called one of his friends who lives in the city to say hello. Explaining to his friend what he had been doing there was the first time Brian referred to me as his girlfriend. I remember my Mom kind of looking over me when he said it, like, “Is this the correct information?” – and finding that I really liked the thought of it.
And now I also like the thought of me being a Rhode Islander again.