wAllegedly, I wrote a blog about a year ago which a friend of mine has been trying to find. She claims that the blog talked about how I felt about leaving NYC for Mexico…about how I adjusted and that it contained words and expressions which only I use. I never read my blogs again after I publish them so I could not help her. But I thought I’d kind of write a blog now about how I felt 7 years ago, when I left NYC and 4 years ago when I moved to Puebla. Maybe the two times in just as many years when I took a leap of faith.
I can tell you that when I moved to Cozumel, over 7 years ago now, I had not felt as though I was “leaving” NYC…I had not felt as though I was running away from or escaping a life that I no longer wanted. I really felt as though I was just taking a break…a potential 2 year break during which time my plan was to just dive. I didn’t think about the culture I was leaving behind or the great steakhouses or sushi places…not to mention the public transportation system and the change in seasons. And I certainly never felt as though I was leaving my friends behind, because I really thought that all those who had promised to visit (including my family) was really going to.
When I got to Cozumel…with my bike in a box…I did not speak a word of Spanish and the only thing I imagined myself doing was diving…forever! I was never really a planner and I really had NO IDEA what I was in store for. Yes, I knew about the sea life I might encounter as I began to regularly dive to 250 feet as a tech diver, and the sun I knew would probably leaves scars all over my body. But as far as the people, I had no clue.
And I gotta tell ya’…I guess the people who at the time were living in NYC hadn’t been enough to keep me there, so I guess I was taking a leap of faith that I might make a friend or two. I’ve blogged about this before, and I’m sure many of my usual readers can tell you, that I grew up in Brooklyn, in an Italian neighborhood that now no longer exists. A place where you could walk the streets all hours of the night with no fear of getting into trouble…where everyone knew each other…took care of each other…knew your name (or your mother’s or grandfather’s) where I knew I would always find a kind face with a kind word.
But when I moved to Manhattan…you know, right across that Brooklyn Bridge…12 miles from where I grew up…I was shocked by the difference. Yes, suddenly I was surrounded by uber smart people, those who could run intellectual circles around me but those with little to no common sense. It worked for some 10 years before I realized that the friends I had (granted, certainly not all of them) might not be worth sticking around NYC for…so I left. And I left to go somewhere else…not a place like NYC…not a place I could ever compare to NYC…but a place that was quite the opposite, if nothing else, from what NYC had become to me.
And what did I eventually discover? I discovered a place…and eventually a country…that was very much like where I grew up in Brooklyn. Yes, the difference is that I’m not from here (obviously) so I do tend to meet up with people who might treat me like I’m just here on vacation. But once I’ve been given a chance to explain myself…why I’m here…what brought me here…and how much I love living here…I am met with some of the warmest people I’ve ever met in my life. People who are patient with my Spanish…people who are curious about me…people who I feel would take care of me…the way my old Italian neighbors used to make me feel.
Now that same friend, I mentioned earlier, is experiencing something similar to me when I maybe took my first leap of faith and moved into Manhattan…where I found culture and museums and so many places to see and experiences I had never had…while still forcing me to sacrifice the camaraderie I had grown up with…which I didn’t realize I had missed until after I had traded in my suits and high heels for cut offs and tank tops and found myself sitting on a beach or a roof or a boat with some of the most AMAZING souls I’ve ever known. To this day, I keep meeting some of the most incredible people who I would never have known had I not had the cajones to take the many leaps of faith my life allowed me to take.
So what do I tell my friend? Concentrate on the positive. Find something each day that can make you smile and leave the past behind you. It may have been easier for me to not compare NYC (10 million people – huge metropolis) with Cozumel (100,000 people – small diving island off the coast of Mexico, floating in the Caribbean). But the best advice I give her is, this is your time to be reborn. Take all the things that you learned throughout your life in NYC and keep them tucked away because those are the things that will allow you to rise above the pettiness…ignorance…unsophisticated people you may find yourself surrounded by now.
I’m always just a phone call away…and I’ll always be there for you. Let me be your secret weapon as you battle the unknown herds existing outside of NYC. But remember, you will never find anyone like me or like yourself anywhere in the world, including in some parts of NYC. We lived and survived NYC when it was at its darkest and we left…something that many people wish they may have had the guts to do before NYC turned into something that she and I may not even recognize anymore.
I heard an expression once that went something like this:
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.“
Well, my friend, let NYC represent the shoulders of Giants that we stand on in order for us to see past those who still surround us who lack the sophistication and common sense required to create a meaningful…long lasting…relationship with us. Let NYC be the stepping stone we took…as large as it may have been…in order to allow us to land where we have for the reasons we have chosen and for reasons we will NEVER regret! (In NYC, we also learned that regrets don’t get us anywhere!)