Years ago, when I was living in Brooklyn, I got off the train one night two stops too soon and walked south towards home. There must have been some issue with the subway because it was too hot for such a long walk and the summer air seemed to catch between my fingers and stick at the base of my neck. Hot and tired and at the end of a long day, I remember thinking, if I could leave, right now, and do anything else, I'd go and sit and stare at the mountains for a month.
I feel like I mostly made a mess of leaving New York. I should have gone quickly, with little fanfare. But there were logistical concerns and so I stayed for as long as was necessary. I'm not quite sure how to describe those last two months other than to say that time felt thick and viscous, and I felt stuck.
It occurs to me that I haven't actually said why I am going, or where. Not here anyhow. So here goes: I'm headed to Duke to get a Masters in Public Policy.
It is a decision that feels deeply and quietly and unambiguously right. Which is to say, yes, I'm excited.
But before North Carolina, before school, before the terror and thrill of having to meet all new people, I am spending a month in the mountains. To sit and breathe and edit a book. Because life is weird and cool and the twenty-seven-year-old me who walked home that night tired and hot and overwhelmed by the future planted some seeds, and here we are.
I went back to Brooklyn last week, two nights before leaving. Another warm summer evening. With nearly everything I owned packed away in boxes I pulled out a vintage dress I got a few years back at a small shop in Park Slope that no longer exists. I swiped on a dark lip stain and took the F train one last time. To Vinegar Hill. To a tiny restaurant on a tiny street that my friend Kim and I discovered one night after reading an article in GQ. And there I sat marveling at four of my oldest and closest friends as we laughed and argued and ate cheese and pasta and jam and chocolate cake and it felt like an actual celebration.
If you'd have asked any one of those friends some five years back if I'd ever get there--if we'd ever sit in Brooklyn on a quiet July night and drink tequila and celebrate so much good--I'm not sure what they might have said.
New York was hard. I think I can say that honestly, without addition or pretense. I am so glad to leave. So much of what happened in that tangle of streets was not good. But there was much good, too. And as I walked to the subway on Tuesday night, and as I sat with my girlfriends eating too-expensive-and-too-small-dishes, quietly happy, I couldn't help but think I am leaving New York with everything I might need. A sense of awe. A little bit of grit. A capacity for both joy and sadness. A clear and meaningful value system. And a deep appreciation for the woman New York made me--or perhaps the woman I became in spite of New York. Everything else that I might want--or wish for--will be built on the backs of those things. And that is enough. More than, actually.