Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Move That Wasn't

Warning: This is going to be a long post.

As you all know, I left for New York on Thursday to move into a nice apartment and begin my journey to become a literary agent. After roughly 1400 miles, 23 hours, 8 states, and 1 hotel room, my mom and I arrived in New York. We got a whirlwind tour of the house and met the landlords. Everything was great. It was a nice apartment in a good neighborhood. I couldn't have asked for more. We unloaded all of my stuff (which was a lot of crap) and then we set out to the nearest Target for groceries and last minute supplies so that I could survive for a bit on my own. My mother was going to leave in the morning. As it turned out, we didn't get to bed until after 11 PM, and she was entirely too exhausted to leave in the morning. I am so glad she didn't.

Saturday when we finally got up, we decided to walk around the neighborhood a little and head into Manhattan so Mom could see Central Park before she left. At this point, I was looking at New York from an entirely different perspective. Previously, I had been a tourist. I had looked at the metro and all the people and the tall buildings as something I found interesting. Surely, I thought, I could live here. It's different, but I can handle it. Walking around Manhattan and Brooklyn and looking at it as if it were my life now was a completely different experience, and it was one that changed everything for me. I THOUGHT I could live in New York, especially out in Brooklyn where there are actual houses and the neighborhood is not so different than what I'm used to. I THOUGHT I could deal with being surrounded by so many people constantly while feeling completely isolated. I THOUGHT I was made of tougher stuff.

I was wrong.

On the way back to the apartment, I knew without a doubt that I could not live there. New York City was not a place I could live. It wasn't homesickness or fear or cowardice. I knew I didn't have it in me to live there. Some people can handle big cities. Some people thrive in them. Everyone who ends up in New York adapts and changes. They MAKE it work. But the major thing is that they WANT it to work. They WANT to be there. I didn't. I know that now.

I wanted to be in publishing. I wanted to do something I'm passionate about, and I wanted to help others make their dreams come true. Agenting was the perfect way to do that. I thought that if I could do something like that then it wouldn't matter where I was, that I could totally handle living in such a large city, so long as I was doing something I love. But as soon as I realized how much I didn't want to be there, it didn't matter if someone offered me a job agenting right then and there. I wouldn't have taken it. I want to work with books, always have, and I convinced myself that if New York was where I needed to be to make that happen, I could do it. Now I know otherwise.

I want to work with books, yes, and I love the publishing industry, but my dream job has always been to write. And I can do that from anywhere. I am a small town kind of girl. I like my mountains and my trees and the ability to walk around barefoot. I like being able to walk around my neighborhood without being terrified. I like my Targets to be a single story. I like my Hastings. I like fewer people and less traffic. I like being back home.

I'm not saying I wasn't homesick and I wasn't scared to be 1400 miles away from everyone I knew, because I was. But it wasn't my reasoning for turning around and coming home 27 hours after I got to New York. I left because every inch of me knew I didn't belong there and it wasn't the right place for me to be. Nothing about being there felt right to me, and as soon as I made up my mind to pack the car back up and head home, I felt better.

I know everyone is going to say I should have stuck it out, should have stayed longer to give it a try, but I don't see the point. I don't regret my decision, and I don't believe I will later on. I felt, and still feel, like moving to New York was the real mistake, and I don't see why I should have tried to stay to make it work if I knew I was just going to return home anyway. Isn't it better to figure things out while you're ahead? Why should I have stayed and tried to get a job or an internship when I knew I wasn't going to change my mind because I didn't want to be there? I thought it was better to go ahead and cut my losses while they were still mine and before I wasted anyone else's time.

So there you have it. I spent 6 or so months preparing to move to New York. I got off my mother's cell plan and switched networks; I opened a bank account that actually existed in New York and not where I'm from; I got an apartment; and I packed my life into a series of boxes. I moved to NYC, and then I took a good, hard look at myself and discovered I wasn't who I thought I was. And then I packed my life back into the car and I left. I may have set the record for shortest residency ever, but I'm okay with that. I know the whole situation is ridiculous, and I wish I had figured all of this out earlier, but I didn't, and that's just life.

I am home, and I couldn't be happier with my decision. Of course, I am also now aware that I am allergic to New York's mosquitoes, as they made the bites on my arm swell up to the size of a large egg, but it's all good. I don't have to worry about that any more. I am sunburned. I am sore. I am back where I belong. I did not intend for things to turn out the way they did. I did not foresee this happening. I did not want to waste a lot of money and 5 days. Life is crazy and things don't always go according to plan.

So I don't know what happens next, but I know I did the right thing for me. I know that my dream has always been to write, and for now that's what I'm going to focus on. I think I might try to get a job in a bookstore and save up for a car and a place of my own. I know I will be happier working part-time and writing than I could have been chasing after the job I thought was perfect for me in a city I can only love if I'm visiting.

If I have let you down, I'm sorry. If you think less of me because you think I should have stayed and tried harder, I'm sorry. If you think I'm an idiot and I'll regret this later, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm not living my life the way YOU think I should. I'm sorry that I don't really care what you think if that's the case. I figured out a little piece of my life, and I'll figure out what I'm supposed to do next. I hope you'll all be there with me. I hope none of you will think too little of me after everything that's happened, because I hope you've all realized by now that I don't do things lightly or on a whim. I make serious plans, and for me to decide to come home so soon, well, that was a big deal, one that I knew virtually no one would really understand. I hope I'm wrong. I hope you get it. I hope you stick around.

That's it. That's what happened. That's all I've got to say.

That, and I hope you all had an amazing Fourth of July weekend. :)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If everything in you screamed that it wasn't the right move for you, then better to listen to that voice now than have it haunt you for the next few months.
Publishers are everywhere - you have many more options besides New York!

Brooke Johnson said...

I'm sorry you didn't feel at home in NY. But it is good that you figured it out almost immediately. It would suck to be stuck there in a place you don't feel comfortable in.

I'm with you. I like the back woods. Mountains, trees, and lots of grass.

I'm glad you're confident with your decision. The only person that knows what is right for you is you. If you don't belong in NY, you don't belong in NY, and no amount of denying it will change that.

Just do what makes you happy. :) That's what is important. <3

Indigo said...

I learned a long time ago, no one knows what's best for you, but you.
You know what feels right to you.

You'll find the path you're meant to be on in your own time. As for me, this nature girl loves visiting the city, but I'd be lost without my mountains. (Hugs)Indigo

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

oh man, sorry. Better now then later I guess?

Tere Kirkland said...

I think you can tell pretty quickly if you can live somewhere or not. I for one can't handle New York for more than a few days, and probably would have been hard pressed to live in Brooklyn. Even though I'm of the mind that you can live anywhere for a year, if it's going to be a miserable year, and you have options, why stick it out?

IMO, you made the right decision for you. If you are still feeling relieved that you changed your mind, you did the right thing.

Samantha Bina said...

There's nothing wrong with the decision you made. I found that out when I lived in Ireland. It's definitely somewhere I'd like to visit again, but it isn't a place I care to live. Two months was too much. At least you figured out you didn't like NY right away. Don't listen to anyone who tells you you made a bad decision. Until you've been in the situation, there's no way to explain it. I'm sorry things didn't work out, and that we didn't get to meet, but I'm proud of you for making a decision you knew was best <3

Lots of love,

Heather said...

I think it's incredibly brave of you to admit when something like that didn't work out for you and to take steps to change it. Only you know what's best for you and if that wasn't New York then that's okay. Keep the west coast in mind, there are some great agencies over here and California is much more laid back. Plus the weather rocks. :)

Amanda J. said...

I appreciate the support, you guys, really. :)

Claire Legrand said...

You made the right decision, sweetie. If so much of who you are screamed out in protest at the idea of living in that city, then there's absolutely no reason to have forced the situation. Anyone who thinks less of you because of the brave (yes, BRAVE) decision to come home is, quite honestly, probably not worth your time. You'll be able to pursue your dreams no matter where you are. I, for one, am proud of you for going through all of that, making the tough decision to come home, and having such a great attitude about it. You rock, my dear. *hugshugs*


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