New York is a special place. Whenever I travel to the city, it's like flying to an unknown destination - you honestly never know what to expect in a metropolis so big. That's part of its charm, the excitement of an alleyway dive bar or a newly emerging art scene. When I arrive, there's a feeling of great discovery, I'm an urban explorer with an all-access passport.
But home is a constant presence. Remembering bills to pay, emails to write, chores to finish, clothes to wash... It's exhausting.
That's why New York has always been such a beautiful metaphor. Escape and longing, rolled into a mile-high steel package with a familiar skyline. Running away from an emotionally distant life that's unfulfilling.
My trips there started in high school and continued through college. As time went on, my love for the city grew stronger and I felt more connected with its soul. The sense of belonging was so strong, almost overwhelming. Periods of depression got filled up by daydreams of what my life could be like in a crummy apartment in Williamsburg, waiting for my roommate to come home with our favorite Thai food from around the corner. Wine in the fridge, dog on the end of the bed, closet full of going-out clothes matched with commuter shoes, photographs littering the halls, keys hung up by the door. The fantasies were all consuming, the details made it feel just barely within reach.
This was the first visit that felt different.
My life has changed drastically over the past few years since moving back to Portland. I never wanted to go back home after college, it felt like I was compromising. However certain situations caused me to re-examine where I needed to be, I knew family was more important at the time than a career and I'll never regret that choice. Ever.
With these huge changes in the last 12 months, my priorities have shifted. More than ever, the presence of home has become so important. Back in college, Cecily and I would wax on and on about all the places we wanted to live, all the jobs we thought we deserved, the crazy amounts of money we wanted to make. Those dreams were beautiful, but they feel so distant and empty now.
New York is less of a realistic dream these days and more of a remote thought bubble that's about to pop. Max and I had such a blast, honestly, we did. We spent the whole trip dressing to the nines, wandering through the halls of giant fashion houses on 5th, searching for hidden restaurants and bars, and getting fluent in the subway lines of Brooklyn.
For now, my faraway reveries can remain in a drawer, packed besides my mother's wedding cameo and uncashed savings bonds from the 80's.
Portland is my home. The entire time I was in New York, I kept thinking about all the people I wanted to be there with me and Max. How my birthday extravaganza at a Burlesque club in Dumbo would have been even better with Becca screaming at half-naked male jugglers by my side. How my afternoon at the Natural History Museum would have been even better with John sputtering awkward facts about whales. How my walk through Central Park in 90 degree weather would have been even better with Brittany gossiping over bad New England coffee.
More than anything, my people are my home. And for now, they're here, in Portland.
Hopefully I'll find new dreams, the courage to leave home again and a fresh future to invest in. Until then, I'd rather be happy here, with my quiet apartment and noisy friends all around me. There are too many moments I don't want to be 2,894 miles away for.
All the photos from this post were shot in New York. I didn't end up shooting too much while we were there, so these are most of the images I ended up loving. A big shout out to Max for the shot of me in the orange pants, which ended up being featured on a NYC Street Style blog.
I'm still processing the new direction my life may be turning towards, but I'm finally realizing that it's ok to take that time to process. We'll see how it goes.