I moved to New York City eight years ago. It’s a tough city to crack, but once you lean into the pulse of New York, you’ll never leave. With Broadway, the arts, culture, diversity, fast-paced work, opportunities galore, the best food and drink in the world, and the 24-hour buzz—there is truly no other place like it in the world. When New York City dimmed its lights in March, I never could have predicted the tough decisions and changes that would unfold over the last six months.
In 2016, I signed the lease on my second Manhattan apartment. While it was small at only 400 square feet, it was well appointed. I had a terrace with city views, a gas fireplace, a jacuzzi bathtub, in-unit laundry, a walk-in closet, and a wine fridge. I was right in the middle of Manhattan by The Empire State Building and my favorite pizza place. I felt like I was truly living my New York dream, and I couldn’t fathom any reason or scenario where I would move. I wrote “Thank you!” on the memo of my rent check each month and exemplified a model tenant to keep my yearly renewal in play.
But as I shared in another essay, I opted out of my lease renewal in July and moved in with my partner, Lon.
Would I have made this decision if there was no pandemic? The answer is a hard NO. Am I devastated by this decision? The answer is an even harder NO.
Life may have aggressively pushed me in this direction, but I found myself welcoming it with open arms when I reframed my thinking a bit.
Advice From a Good Friend
As I deeply contemplated my situation, a conversation that I had in January came flooding back to memory. Two months prior to NYC’s lockdown, Lon and I hosted a Super Bowl Party filled with delicious food and amazing friends. (I miss those days!) One of my best friends, Kim, brought her joyous self and a Carvel ice cream cake, but her greatest contribution would be her unsolicited advice to move in with Lon. At the time, I adamantly dismissed the idea. I fired off a few excuses like, my pride wouldn’t allow it, and I didn’t care for Lon’s furniture. Sitting in the chair we recently gave away in the more, Kim respectfully replied, “I disagree. I think you should seriously consider this.”
Two months later, I seriously was considering it. As Kim’s advice rang louder and louder, I solidified my decision to move by absorbing these four key points:
Understand that these are not normal times—for ANYBODY.
I found myself out of work, job seeking during a pandemic and what felt like a city-wide hiring freeze on brand marketing jobs. As I searched for employment, verbal offers were rescinded, and promising conversations were grounded in their tracks. With each passing week, friends reached out to share that they too were let go. I began to realize that any gap in my resume is explainable, and I was not alone in my search.
And as I sat in my apartment day after day, those tiny walls started to close in quickly. Shimmying from the bedroom to the bathroom started to get on my nerves. Food delivery got really old really fast. This was definitely not the New York that I signed up for. Apparently, it wasn’t for my neighbors either; my building was suddenly at 50% capacity.
Let people in.
My partner, Lon, lives in a 2 bed, 2 bath by the East River. In late March, as a temporary solution, I packed a bag and headed across town to enjoy his company, cooking, and some much-needed space. We shopped for groceries, tried new recipes, completed puzzles, binge watched Breaking Bad and Ozark, and had lengthy conversations over boxed wine—often over FaceTime with friends and family. We had never spent so much consecutive time together, and this forced situation fast tracked our relationship in the best way possible.
When I went back to my apartment to grab new clothes, get the mail, and check on things, I noticed that it didn’t feel the same to me anymore. It felt small and a touch lonely. I usually ended up calling Lon and chatting the night away before going back to his place the next day.
Remove the stressor.
I started to realize that the vast majority of the stress in my life was hinged on paying $4,000 a month for my apartment—an apartment that wasn’t fun anymore, nor was it practical for the climate of social distancing and lockdown. It was also stressful having to get myself across town every few days to travel back and forth.
For a long time, I felt that having my own apartment in Manhattan was a status symbol, a badge of honor, that absolutely had to be maintained at all costs. By letting go of that notion, I was free to move in with Lon and take a little more time to find the RIGHT job.
Friends asked me if it was hard to leave my place, and my honest answer was NO. It served a great purpose, and now that purpose isn’t there anymore. It worked out for four awesome years, and now it’s time to move forward into new, uncharted waters. How exciting is that?!
Breed positive thoughts.
Friends also asked if my move was financial or emotional. Honestly, it was both, and both were exacerbated by the pandemic. Without the pandemic, I would have likely returned to work long ago, kept busy and signed a fifth year on my lease. And while all of that would be fantastic, I can’t help but feel positive thoughts that I had an opportunity to slow down and spend high quality time with Lon.
This experience, as uncomfortable as it has been, has truly pushed my life in a better direction, opened my mind, and became a positive for me. I'm happy to have embraced vulnerability, some faith, and positivity under tough circumstances.