Looking Back to Move Forward

Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash

Leaving NYC, my therapist told me, can be like a breakup.

You vilify what you’re leaving behind in order to accept your new reality.

When I moved out of NYC last year, I was all “fuck New York.” The city I’d grown up in the shadow of. The city where I spent my mid 20s to my mid 30s.

I could see all of the pain I experienced there and none of the happiness. But my trip back this weekend was different.

My therapist always reminds me to slow down and let myself feel things, and I took time to do just that this weekend in between stuffing my schedule with plans. I walked over to Central Park and sat down on a bench, intending just to listen to some music or journal a bit.

I was surprised when my eyes started stinging with tears, then filling with them, pouring out of my eyes, before I could identify what was happening. But as I looked out at the runners on the loop, my heart began aching for the old days. When all I had to do was tweet to find a running buddy. When most problems could be solved with a good run. When my mom was waiting for me at finish lines. When everything was less complicated by the layers of life we’ve all experienced.

I walked over to Toloache to meet friends for brunch, and my friend Shannon was the first there. We sat waiting for our table, and I looked at her and told her I’d just been crying in Central Park, missing the old days. Shannon is one of the first close friends I made in NYC, and she has been one of the most unconditional friends…ever? I looked at her and started crying harder, remembering all kinds of old memories.

All those months and years of anger and hatred towards New York City melted away, and I saw all the fun, all the good times I had, too. But a lot has changed since those times, and you can’t go back, only forward.

I was able to open my heart to appreciating my old home and being appreciative and excited for this new life I’m building. NYC will always hold a big piece of my heart, but for right now, I love Santa Monica and the life I’m building there, by the ocean with my sweet little dog, going to grad school to fulfill dreams. Life contains multitudes, and right now, those are loving and missing NYC and being really happy where I currently am.

4 comments on “Looking Back to Move Forward

  1. Joan

    You summed it up pretty well with “home is where the dog is.” For me, also, home is where the memories are. Sometimes home is a lot of places at once, or not a place at all but an object or a phrase or a sound. There’s a Counting Crows line I like that says “If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts…”

    At some points in my life, that’s been almost unbearably heavy. But over the past month of so, it’s started to feel more like the films about ghosts are the kind of movies I want to watch, not ones I’m trying to run away from.

    This rambling brought to you by “Maybe Joan should get some sleep after a crazy start to the week but nah let’s spew words on Theodora’s post instead.”


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