Recently, I moved from Brooklyn, New York to Greeley, Colorado. How did this self-proclaimed “Girl of the City” get here? I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and when I was five, I told my mom that I was moving to New York City one day. By a fluke, I finally got my chance to move there when a coworker, who was moving to Brooklyn, said she needed a roommate. I planned on living there forever.
In New York, one of the first questions asked when you meet someone is, “What borough are you from?” I quickly learned that I needed to “represent.” At first, it felt weird trying to profess my pride for a place that I had only know through TV and movies, but as months passed, I felt less and less like a Clevelander and more like a Brooklynite.
My new city had given me a whole new identity. I was thankful for being able to reinvent myself and happy not to be stuck in the same city, career, house, etc, for the rest of my life.
Now, when people ask me where I’m from, I instinctively say Brooklyn because this “second life” is what defined my adulthood. Cleveland, on the other hand, is a distant memory to me, despite living there well into my twenties.
Unfortunately, after 14 years, the New York City that had I loved since childhood pretty much vanished in front of my eyes. The cool, gritty shops were turned into boutiques that you needed to earn six figures to shop in. (R.I.P. Antique Boutique, Canal Jeans, and 8th Street Lab.) Historic venues like CBGB closed and Dunkin’ Doughnuts and Subway started popping up everywhere. In addition, it was more expensive than ever to live there.
My boyfriend (a Brooklyn native) and I had become fed up with the sky-high cost of living, over-crowdedness, and increasing violence. Just as we were contemplating leaving, we got an offer to stay with his family in Greeley, Colorado.
It was complete culture shock the first time I walked past a cornfield to go get groceries. But, as the months go on, I feel more comfortable here, and I’m (gasp!) starting to lose my Brooklyn ways. I no longer walk at breakneck speed. I say “wait in line” instead of “wait on line.” (Although, I refuse to start calling soda “pop” again.) What other changes will slowly creep up on me?
Of course, I miss certain things about Brooklyn. In Greeley, there aren’t delis on every corner, Halal food trucks, Japanese bookstores, or hookah lounges. But name just one outdoor festival in NYC where can you get quesadillas, soup, hamburgers, hot cider, and more all for FREE!
I’ve lost some things, but I’ve gained a sense of relaxation. I no longer feel the need to “do something” 24/7. In the city that never sleeps, you almost feel guilty for sitting around doing nothing, but now I relish sitting quietly at home, reading books and magazines, like I did when I was growing up. Away from the rat race, there’s more time for me to just be me.
My third life is just beginning. What will be the next incarnation of me? Maybe there will be a fourth or fifth life one day. Who knows?
Who else has noticed that they’ve a big move caused a big re-invention?