I was walking to the subway from work the other night and the city’s beauty took my breath away. Some nights in New York are completely magical. Greenwich Village is filled with NYU students eager and searching, hanging out with friends and in transit. Ad people are on the go heading to drinks with clients. You can walk through Madison Square Park and be filled with nostalgia from one of the many films shot there. Couples are holding hands filled with hope and kissing on street corners or in Subway stations. There are cute wine bars and tapas places. Brooklyn has neighborhoods that are artsy and vibrant and fresh. Queens will always have my heart because it has given me a sense of community and family in a “far away land”. Then on the other hand, some days are complete grinds, the kind that make me question everything about living here. It’s hard. Trains are delayed and rerouted. I have to trek through snow and rain, cold and wind for blocks during my morning commute at times. I have to dodge creepers. I smile with no acknowledgement in return. But as a writer, what more could you want? There’s endless inspiration when it hits right.
There’s diversity, progressive thinking and truth. Activists gather for protests in Washington Square Park and human rights marches travel through the Flatiron district. NYC Pride celebrates “Love is Love”. You can attend MLK Now at The Riverside Church in Harlem annually. Walking down the streets of Little Italy can truly make you feel transported. Need coquito for the holidays? No problem. Man, the street food, it’s next level. The restaurants—you may feel as if you need a passport… Yes, New York has you covered. Just let your craving be known. It’s here. New York is a beautiful tapestry of diverse cultures, lifestyles and beliefs woven together on a daily basis even in all of its segregation and gentrification. It is a place to see and learn but also forget, feast and starve, shine and disappear. It’s a city of opposites in many ways. Despair wrapped in hope.
“Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.” – Teju Cole, Open City
When I was just visiting NY from LA, I fell in love with the bright lights. And the everything bagel sandwich lightly toasted with turkey, mayo, cheddar, lettuce and tomato. (I craved that sandwich when I was back home in Silverlake.) Oh, and I can’t forget the pizza! When we to went parties, I wore my heels and cocktail dresses, and even went to an all-white party in the Hamptons because Sex and the City…obviously. It was a fantasy. I was living what some have only seen on TV or in the movies. And for this Ohio girl, — I was certainly living the big city dream. I can laugh at the cuteness in hindsight but for a 20-something, this was everything.
I was the girl who could live on both coasts. I love my sunshine but as a Theatre major… I saw Cat on A Hot Tin Roof on Broadway with Phylicia Rashad playing Big Mama!!! I mean, I was trading palm trees for Theatre Row. The possibilities were still endless. In my head, “I can do that.” Yes, it may take an adjustment or two but this is amazing. This did mean that I would have to leave some friends behind to keep going on the West, but I promised to visit once a year at least. I also had to walk away from the foundation that I was building but I could have the same opportunities in New York, right? I would move to NY and fulfill my dreams. To add to the adventure, Jay-Z feat Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind” was released the year that I moved to NY. I listened to it on repeat on my train rides to interviews— I was determined. If you want to find out some of my in-between, my then to now, feel free to read my older blog posts. <3 Spoiler alert: there were fun times and a lot of growing pains, self-discovery, tears, change and new boundaries, and empowered decisions. So, —I’m going to fast forward to 2020.
New York is growing on me every day. But, in all honesty, -some days, I can imagine a different way of life. Why? Well, because my heart is open yet I am also clear. I know what works for me and what doesn’t, and I own it. I am also extremely aware of the energy that needs to stay clear of my space. I understand the importance of my “no.” And the impact of my “yes.”
Moving to a different city can be challenging and exhilarating. Some cities are easier on you than others but what I know for sure is you will grow if you are open to trusting the process no matter what zip code you find yourself in. You have to choose wisely and be yourself wholeheartedly. Follow your dreams no matter the circumstance. Your heart will always remind you of its desires …there’s no escaping that so you just need to listen.
There truly are limitless possibilities when we move in faith and choose to see opportunity. If we widen our perspectives, more light can shine in. People always ask once they find out that I’m not originally from New York, “Do you like it here?” I am always torn in my response. Some days I LOVE it and some days I don’t. I never want to sound like I don’t fully understand the greatness of the city or the fact that I have met kind, genuine people and forever friends. I have chosen family here and they make me feel supported. But for me— it really does depend on the day…
“A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.” ― Le Corbusier
New York, I truly do love you… sometimes. Especially in summer. Brilliant colors fill up every space. You can start your Saturday bouncing from vendor to vendor at Smorgasburg, wind up walking a few blocks to Domino Park and stumble upon an outdoor movie set-up and watching Crazy Rich Asians under the stars with the Brooklyn Bridge as your backdrop. I love the warmth, the liveliness, the energy that only a New York in summer can bring.
Oh, New York… you are a beauty that is wrapped up in so much juxtaposing grit, pain, excitement- and promise. Simply put, New York you are a place all your own.
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet and activist based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others. She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibilities that exist in choosing “more” of what allows you to live a life that you love.