Distance is a beautiful thing

I always knew that I needed to leave.

The way that some people know that…

  • “I was always meant to live here in…”
  • “I was always meant to travel the world…”
  • “I was always meant to meet you…”
  • “I was always meant to be a [fill in the blank]”

I always knew that I needed to leave New York City.

Now, it’s old news: I did. This weekend marks one year. On April 13th, I had picked up my keys and had my first glass of wine in my new, empty apartment in The District. The very next day, I drove back to NYC to finish my packing, and a few days after that, everything was in motion.

Funny enough, I didn’t remember that as I left on Thursday night to drive from The District back to NYC to visit family and see a few friends.

It’s funny how quickly a year goes by… it’s funny how much your life can change in just 365 days.

It’s funny how your perspective can change, too.

In the previous year, I’ve been back to NYC more than 10 times. I’m not counting how many, but between trips and flights, and family and work, and getting the house sold, and just… being there, nearly every trip drained me. It felt like the moment I saw the Exit 13 on the NJ Turnpike, to the Goethals Bridge, a force gripped me and I knew misery waited for me in those last thirty-something miles from NJ to the house that was both mine and no longer mine. Either it would be a person I didn’t need to speak to, or a drink that I shouldn’t have had, or a spot of traffic that would undo me, or a road sign that reminded me of a thing that I had thought I’d forgotten and now it was back–

Every single one of those trips something made my stomach churn, made my soul hurt, made me ask myself: why did you even come back?

Except for this last one. I would be lying if I told you “oh, it was just time passing by” but, I won’t lie to you, and I won’t like to myself:

I’ve changed.

This trip, I kept it simple:

  1. I didn’t work. I took the day off.
  2. I prioritized: got my car inspected, did my hair, saw only specific friends and gave myself time to talk and truly enjoy their company.
  3. I spent time with my family, the right way.
  4. Lastly, and most important: I left when I was ready. I took care of me.

That’s it. But… that’s not it, because, me last year didn’t take care of me very much, very often. I wanted to, in fact, I believed I was, but I wasn’t.

And now, I do.

I still hate traffic in NYC. It’s vile and inhumane. It didn’t used to be so bad – that’s not nostalgia or revisionist history, it’s a verifiable fact that traffic (and transit!) in NYC has degraded to a point that stresses even the most zen human being. I am not the most zen, but I am far from the most sensitive. That situation is out of control.

But, it’s not my problem anymore. So, I kvetched about it when I encountered traffic at 11:30pm on the way in Thursday night, and I kvetched about it going into the Manhattan Friday night to the tune of nearly two hours trying to get to a place that used to take me 45 minutes, and I’ll admit I uttered a term that could peel paint, but–

That’s NYC. That’s just what it is. And now I can enjoy for it for what it is and has, and even better, I can leave it behind, and go back to enjoy the rest of my life.

Distance does make the heart grow fond; I can’t deny it, I have a soft spot for the city and all its seething, heaving denizens. But, but! distance is also a beautiful, most blessed thing for me.

I always knew I was meant to leave that city. What I didn’t know was that the way for me to love it again was to do so from the rear view mirror.

It’s prettier that way; I love it best that way.

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