I inhale and let the air chill my lungs. It’s not quite cold enough to make my breath catch; rather, it’s that perfectly startling coolness that settles inside, like swallowing an ice cube by accident. I am walking down Lexington Avenue and it takes maybe three blocks before my pace quickens, matches everyone else’s, becomes determined to get wherever I am going.
In this case, I am going to meet Natalie and Cailin – and Cailin’s mom and sister – for lunch at S’Mac. My mom is walking next to me. I think maybe she’s wondering what’s going on in my head – this is the first time I’ve been back to New York City since I moved away six months ago – but more likely she’s distracted by the prospect of meeting Cailin’s mom. They’re sure to have much in common and everyone’s excited to watch them meet.
At first, I swallow ice cubes of air and look around me, wide-eyed. Nostalgia charges in, hitting me across the head, blinding me for a while. Why would I ever leave this place?
I wish I’d written this down back in January, when it was fresh in my mind. That painful nostalgia turned quickly into the more peaceful kind when I realized my love for New York City is very likely contingent upon not actually living there. But I didn’t write it down and now I can’t remember how I came to that realization, even if I know it’s still true.
Now, it’s been five more months and it’s Springtime in New York and I miss it. I miss bringing out my warm-weather clothes, going through sundresses forgotten in the cold, gray Winter. I miss rediscovering sandals and flip flops and bathing suits. I’m not shedding layers and tucking away bulky wool layered with moth balls because I never wore those things to begin with. Not here in sunny Los Angeles.
I wish I’d written it down, that feeling of calm confidence, back in January when it was right there on the tip of my tongue. Instead I swallowed it, choked it down, and I like to think it was because I was trying to internalize it but if I’m being honest, I was probably just too scared to make some grand declaration about how right it feels to be in Los Angeles.
Here’s the weird thing: It still feels right to be in Los Angeles. At least, it feels right to not be in New York, which is the same thing, kind of.
I guess I forgot that just because you’re ready to move on doesn’t mean it won’t hurt sometimes.
I didn’t even know that Spring was my favorite season in New York until now.