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Starting Over

"I Moved 3,000 Miles Away—Alone"

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  • In the weeks after my 30th birthday, I noticed I was crying a lot. When the subway rerouted and dumped me a mile from home on the day I was carrying three heavy books and wearing my pointiest heels, I cried. When the exterminator came to deal with the rat problem in my building's basement, I sobbed. I left the city to visit my parents, where I walked in the woods and bawled when I saw a bird that wasn't a pigeon. On the drive back, emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel into swerving, honking taxis, I cried yet again. It suddenly became easy to imagine myself at 40, still utterly single, still waiting an hour for brunch, still not able to scrape together enough money for an apartment with a backyard...or even one without a basement rat colony.

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    Before that, I'd never been a crier. In a fight or flight situation, I'd always chosen fight—when someone smashed into me on the street, I'd cuss them out, not retreat. But after five years, everything that had been exciting about the city left me feeling defeated. I was fighting for a dryer at the Laundromat, to get a promotion at a job that meant more editing and even less writing, for a spot on the subway just to get home. I used to throw elbows, but now those daily frustrations were throwing me over an emotional cliff. I'd chased the dream, but it wasn't as fulfilling as I'd hoped. In a city of millions, I felt run-down and lonely. Living there was no longer worth the fight.

Starting Over
"I Moved 3,000 Miles Away—Alone"
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