Withholding the weeks I retreated back to California for solace, I have hesitantly yet assuredly called New York City home for three years now. Since I have been here, I have lived in various pockets of Manhattan: Tribeca, Morningside Heights, and the East Village. I did not feel "home" until I moved into the East Village. The two years I spent there were the two most formative years of my life. As I finished my last years at university, discovered myself as an artist, spent way too much money on Indian food, and burned myself on the exposed water poles- I had time to be alone and really get to know myself.
I do not have everything figured out or much for that matter but my time living in my studio lent me the opportunity to make choices that were influenced only by myself. I did not have an RA asking me to go to the movies or roommates to clean up after, I had to come to everything on my own. Although, I had immense familial support that afforded me to live there, at 3,000 miles away, my day to day was up to me. I enjoyed finding paintings on the street and figuring out where to hang them, having friends over and feeding them the cheapest frozen chicken nuggets I could find, and reading out on my fire escape late at night during the summers.
I was even able to open up my home to friends who visited, who needed to crash between moves, and eventually a roommate, who wonderfully rounded out my days before it was time for us to leave. Even though I lived alone, everyone that took part in my home, is a integral part to my experience and memories; Not to mention, my sanity, because there were weeks I would only associate with people at school/work and then hole up in solitude for far too long.
As my days in the East Village came to a close, I began to appreciate more bits and pieces of the apartment: the pink bathroom tiles, the odd cord that stuck out above the shower, the slant the apartment is built on, the ever lingering smell of a gas leak (ok, not that), and even the dust the collected over the decades this room has embraced. It was mine; and now I almost feel a sense of violation that someone else will get to call it theirs. I have been wondering if the people before me feel the same that I do, or if it is just me who fell in love with my little, roach haven.
Being attached to possessions and objects is not something that I am necessarily guilty of, but more so the memento of what a place or thing means. I didn't save my prom dresses or movie tickets from my first date, because for me it was not something I needed; I need vivid memories to sustain me. As I had all my belongings in boxes I thought, "What if I walk away and somebody takes it all? How would I feel?" Of course, it put a sense of fear in me but then I thought that although it would be an invasion, I was comforted by the thought that nobody could ever steal MY memories. Things and places are just tools that remind us what to think or feel but as long has I have my mind, I will never have to lose or be robbed of what is special to me. This realization allowed me to detach and leave without caving into melancholy.
Now, I have moved to Brooklyn with one of my best friends and a collection of new faces. The transition was almost seamless after I set up shop and smiled at my new, cozy niche. I smiled because I was happy to see my belongings out of boxes but even more so because I knew that however long I spend here I will gain more memories that I will get to carry with me for as long as I need.