I’m not a superstitious person, but I do believe deeply in the cosmic significance of my iPod. I keep it on shuffle, and it has a knack for unearthing from my musical archives exactly what I need to hear at any given moment. My home life unfolds to monthly rotations of club jamz and thug jamz, so when I’m in transit, I throw playlists to the wind and leave my soundtrack in the hands of the universe. I’ve been known to experience spiritual epiphanies on public transportation, and the effect is amplified when it comes to travel—whatever song plays as my flight touches down sets the tone for my entire trip.
As my plane angled into Reagan National last Wednesday, I was curious to see what the iPod gods would throw my way. The evening before had brought my last Trivia Tuesday at Simone’s, a favorite Pilsen haunt for raspberry ale and sweet potato fries, followed by “it’s-not-goodbye-it’s-see-you-later!”s to three of my closest Chicago pals. I had spent the wee hours of the morning dismantling my apartment, a studio in Rogers Park that saw my transformation from rattled but resolute half-shell of a human to what can only be described as Me Again, But Better. At 6am, I had left my keys on the counter, hailed a cab to O’Hare, and boarded a one-way flight to DC. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours. I was physically and emotionally spent. As we prepared for landing, my iPod made its selection, and I fought back tears at the opening chords of Lady Gaga’s “Marry the Night.”
Gaga wrote “Marry the Night” about her return to New York City after a breakdown of epic proportions, so the song assumed a particular gravity for me as I steeled myself for a similar undertaking. I grew up in Northern Virginia, but I’ve wanted to live in New York since I first learned what New York was, and a summer spent interning there in 2010 dispelled my Sex and the City-esque notions but did little to otherwise dampen my affection. I knew I was headed back, but I had no idea when—I graduated without a job offer, and while I had committed to relocating by June, I was half-convinced I’d end up begging for work at the Brooklyn Crossroads. I had contacts in publishing, but I knew of no open entry-level positions. My one prospect was an online editorial gig at a women’s empowerment and career advice site, and while I had managed to fight my way into a second interview, I was expressly told I didn’t have enough experience for the position. I figured any interview practice I could get would be useful, however, and a weekend in NYC would boost my morale for the months of living at home and waiting tables that lay ahead.
On Friday, I boarded a one-way bus for a two-day trip with enough clothes to last me a week. By the good graces of Lord iPod, the theme song to “NFL on Fox” blasted as we drove through the Lincoln Tunnel. Game time.
On Saturday, I woke up early, ate oatmeal I’d brought from home in a plastic baggie, went for a run, showered, donned my prized Chanel jacket, and hopped a subway train downtown. I gave the interview my all, then spent all night blowing off nervous energy. Shortly after 5am, I straggled in, peeled off my sweat-soaked clothes, hurled myself onto my couch bed, and decided I wasn’t leaving.
On Sunday, I called my parents and told them I “had a feeling” I should stay, that there was nothing I would be doing at home that I couldn’t do from Manhattan, and that I would keep them posted on my plans. I think they thought I was nuts. I nursed my hangover, updated my blog, and went about business as usual.
I got the call on Monday. On Tuesday, I began work as a professional writer and editor.
Things happened quickly for me. Almost too quickly. I knew living in NYC would require a learning curve, but I didn’t expect my first week to be such a shock to the system. I wasn’t sleeping, eating, or working out as I normally would, and the temporary suspension of that framework hit me hard. I felt frazzled and sluggish and ill at ease in my own skin. Overwhelmed by my hour-long commute from Washington Heights to Gramercy Park. Simultaneously afraid of and prone to overspending. I’m fortunate to have a support network of family and friends in NYC, but the reality of building a new life in a new city seemed suddenly daunting. A three-month internship two years ago does not a New Yorker make. I know subway lines and neighborhoods, but I don’t know work-life balance and Manhattan real estate (!) and long-term budgeting on a modest salary. I felt like I was finally living the life I’d always wanted, and I was ruining it.
Needless to say, I can be a bit hard on myself. I zoomed down to Virginia this weekend to get more clothes and collect my thoughts, and I’m feeling infinitely more prepared to take on the changes. Moving to New York is a thrilling and inevitable milestone, but I can’t go into it expecting everything to be perfect. I can love New York with all my soul, know in that same soul that I belong there, and still admit that I find it intimidating. I’ve made peace with that. I also got an iPhone, so I feel like that’s really going to change things for me.
Today, I “came home” to New York for the first time. I don’t have an end date. I live here now. Whether or not that life looks like I imagined it would, my childhood dream is a reality. I did it. I got here. And I’m marrying it.
Today, as my bus drove through the Lincoln Tunnel, I chose the soundtrack myself. You guessed it—”Marry the Night.” I don’t harbor any delusions that this is going to be easy. New York is an expensive, competitive, often indifferent city. It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating. And I’m marrying it.
Today, my life as a New Yorker officially begins. And I’m marrying it.
No questions, just a request:
The night is now. Marry it.