I‘ve always liked putting down roots. Perhaps it stems from the fact that until I was nineteen, we never owned our own home. Perennial renting isn’t uncommon in New York City. By virtue and happenstance of my birth taking place in New York City, this is the first place I put down roots.
My family, best friend of 22 years, and countless more friends and experiences I have all thanks to that city. I have bemoaned the gentrification of St. Mark’s place, the whitewashing of Nine Points, the never ending construction on the Gowanus. I feel NYC in my blood – it has made me who I am, and that is the reason I feel so comfortable leaving it. Because it is my home, I can always go back. This may be me taking it for granted. The roots I have in this city stem back generations, cover decades of friendships, deaths and births. They exist, as perennial as rent-stabilised lease agreement.
“Some people, as they move through their lives, rediscover home again and again. Some people never find another after once leaving home. And, of course, some people never leave the one home they’ve always known.”
During college I was surrounded by a lot of people from ‘just outside of Boston’ which I soon realised could mean anything from a short trip on the T to a forty-five minute drive. This was a far cry from my United Nations International School up-bringing, where there were girls from Iceland via Tokyo, boys from Prague via Bangkok. Perhaps this also contributed to my root-ing nature, knowing so many people who lived transitory lives. They were wonderful to know, and opened my world up even more than one could imagine. But I had not lived that life – my life wasn’t transitory it was just impermanent.
My mom was the one who suggested I go to London. It was 2013, and she could tell that I was becoming stifled. After a year working at SPIN Magazine, I was back in New London, wavering. We were discussing graduate school and I mentioned California. She said, “if you’re going to go away, why not go far away.” By September I had packed, acquired a visa, and was moving to London for two and a half years.
Present day, and the second city I have placed roots in. These are strong, sturdy, and tie me to the pavement that lines the narrow streets of this city. It is in London that I have become an adult – which is a strange thing for someone with no permanent job to say. I have learned to communicate, to be accountable, honest with myself and others. The city – and my M.A. program – has taught me discipline, self examination, working through the tough bits. These are things that I thought I knew elsewhere. I didn’t really know them, not intrinsically. I knew them to an extent – only the extent my adolescent self could allow. Because London did not see me grow up, it had no standards to hold me to. I made them myself, and can change them as I choose.
“Have fun at home and then come back to your home.”
I am now caught between two homes – New York City and London. They both pull me with tight, visceral cause. My mom, family, and closest friends on the one side – my adult life, my writing, my newest closest friends on the other.
It is a wonderful thing to feel at home in two cities. It is a hard thing to be living between them.
Both of these roots need nurturing, they need care and most of all they need time. Time I cannot so easily dedicate to both. It would be foolish to say this isn’t about money. Money would make it easier, practically, but not emotionally. (Not least because I hate flying.)
Home: /həʊm/ noun: A place where something , is most typically found, or from which it originates. O.E.D.
I often sit and wonder how the world has grown so small and yet countries remain so rigid. Should not a test of citizenship be about passion and love of a country, not about whether you earn a certain amount of money? I appreciate financial stability being of the upmost priority, but surely self sufficiency, safety, and a desire to give back to the community in sundry ways should be the true measure.
Sometimes I wish I were more wanderlusty. That might make this life easier. Nomadic, I could move between more than just two cities and still feel like I was flourishing. But alas, I like being at home. It just so happens that the home where I flourish is two cities.