I am a sentimental girl and I save far too much. I save old pictures, love letters, clothes I’ll never wear again (because they remind me of a specific event,) and dried flower petals. I keep everything because to discard certain things feels as though I am discarding a part of myself. A couple of weeks ago, while in Manhattan, my old friend Michael and I went out for a couple of (overpriced) drinks. He and I have been friends many years so of course, we share many memories and “remember when” stories. My memory serves me well. I remember insignificant details—almost on a photographic level, a blessing and a curse. I am a force to be reckoned with in an argument. After wading in the nostalgia, Michael asked of why I’ve remained in Little Rock. I find myself tightly wedged between a rock and hard place. I wish I had the courage to live outside of Arkansas and yet, the idea of leaving my family and friends leaves me with a lump in my throat. When polling friends and acquaintances who’ve found the courage to uproot, I discovered most were nudged due to a career transfer or a significant other. Very rarely have I heard, “I just packed up and moved.” I know a handful who have and they are satisfied with their decision, yet the absence of reason tends to be uncommon.
My visit to New York stirred something unexpected in me. I had the notion I would enter the “big city” and feel an overwhelming sense of home. My grandparents were born and raised in Queens and Brooklyn, so I harbored this romantic fantasy of being cradled by the city. Instead, I felt anonymous. To quote my mother, “Manhattan is almost dehumanizing. No one cares. You are insignificant.” I was not a brick in the wall, I was I was a speck of dust in the brick. Chicago, on the other hand, entered my veins and allowed me to exhale. I assumed New York would be a magnified Chicago and learned the two cities are absolutely incomparable. It was great to visit with Michael and his wife Brooke, don’t get me wrong. They both bent over backwards to show me the city, plus conversation with both was always enjoyable. But the city itself? People exist like sardines in a bottomless can. Stench and all.
With Michael in Soho. Supporting the hogs in NYC.