Speaking My Way To New York City
In college, I used to joke that one day I would move to New York City. I never meant it seriously. I usually said it as a reply to the "what-are-you-going-to-do-after-college" question. My response was always something like, "Oh, I don't know... get a job, probably in San Francisco, but who knows, maybe I'll move to New York, haha!" I had never even been to New York City, so I'm not sure why I said it, maybe because it sounded glamorous.
A friend of mine who was a year ahead of me in school, did decide to move to New York after college. Her dad lived in New Jersey and she thought it would make sense to live with him and see if she liked NYC. It was summertime between junior and senior year of college and I was home at my parents' house. She lived in SF as well and came over to say goodbye. We chatted for a while about her plans, school, and life. When it was time for her to leave, I walked her to the door and said, "Well, good luck with the move. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be out there too." I'm not sure what prompted me to say it and I certainly wasn't serious. Again, I intended it as an off the cuff joke.
When college finished, I worked for a year, and then decided to go back to school for my MFA in photography. In my second year, I took a printing class, taught by an instructor named Ryan Baldwin. His class was notoriously difficult, he would notice if prints were off by even 3 points of color (to the average viewer, three points difference in color is imperceptible). He also always carried around a tin of Altoids. One day, at the beginning of class, he popped an Altoid in his mouth and asked, "Who here is ready to move to New York City for their photography career? Cause that's what you might have to do." My stomach dropped because all I heard was "You have to move to New York if you want to be a photographer." I felt queasy with the idea because I liked living in San Francisco. I liked going to Giants games regularly. I liked my friends and would miss my family if I moved away. I didn't like that I might have to move for my career. His question made my mouth go dry with fear.
I look back on Ryan's question and now interpret my reaction as fear and resistance. Two years after he asked that question, I did move to New York City with no hesitation. In fact, it even felt like the stars were aligned as I was able to secure an apartment prior to moving. Knowing what I know now about New York City apartment hunting, it is a miracle that I was able to find a reasonably priced studio apartment, on the Upper West Sight, sight unseen.
I do think living in New York City was meant to be part of my path. Or maybe talking about moving to NYC made it so. There is power in our words, even if we are joking. Perhaps I was destined to live here and deep down I knew that when I was casually saying that I would one day live here. I've learned a lot of life lessons while living here. Maybe I would have learned the same lessons had I stayed in San Francisco, but deep down, I feel I needed to learn them here. I look back on all the times I mentioned moving to NYC and wonder if that was really my intuition speaking up. Did I already know I would move here and that's why I mentioned it or did mentioning it spur the idea? Whichever it is, I've never regretted my decision.