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I Love My BF, I Love NY, But I Love Me More

by Michelle Carol

A snowy Central Park --photo by Michelle Carol

When I moved to Manhattan in the fall, I said more hellos than goodbyes. Many of my high school and college friends were already in the city, and I had made some great new friends since I'd begun commuting from Connecticut to work in Manhattan. It seemed that I was the last in my group to make the move to the Big Apple.

It should have been a no-brainer to relocate to NYC --- I had a full-time job here and enough money to support myself. But like many other twentysomethings, my aspirations were impulsive, and changed from one day to the next. How could I know this would be the right move for me? I mean, would I be able to leave my boyfriend of five years behind in Connecticut? Ultimately, it came down to choosing between my love for Stephen, and undeniably, my love for New York.

How could I know if this would be the right move for me?--Park Avenue photo by Michelle Carol

Deciding to move was a choice that I feared I would never act on. I dreamed of someday living in NYC ever since my first visit as a child, but I was scared that because I was in a serious relationship, I'd never have the opportunity to live here on my own. 

I shuttered at the idea of following the all-to-familiar pattern of some of my gal pals --- moving in with my boyfriend a year after college, quickly getting engaged, registering for an iron and ladle, and then waking up bored at age 26 in the same place I was born, never having experienced anywhere else ---  especially not NYC. The time had to be now. If I didn't dive in headfirst I was afraid I never would. 

Relaxing in Bryant Park--photo by Michelle Carol

So, I decided I would move to New York. Stephen's job restrictions combined with his aversion to city life left me with one option: to move to NYC by myself and for myself. If I didn't take this plunge, surely I'd regret it. Plus, I didn't want to resent Stephen or feel like I'd missed out on something I'd dreamt about for years. We agreed to see each other every weekend. And then I did it. I moved to Manhattan.

It's been an interesting few months and for the most part, I've adjusted. But sometimes I feel like a single girl Monday through Friday, and by the weekend I have a full-time relationship again. The three or so weeknights that I'd grown accustomed to spending with Stephen are suddenly wide open. 

I didn't want to resent my boyfriend Stephen--photo courtesy of Michelle Carol

My biggest struggles during a standard week are remembering to charge my cell phone and being available for a goodnight call with Stephen (I've lost track of time more than you'd think), not overspending so I can pay the rent, not double-booking my plans with friends, and drinking a huge glass of water before bed to avoid being hungover at work the next day. 

More than anything, I'm stressed about not doing everything I want to in the city. Most of the things that I enjoy here ironically were not on my list of "Reasons to Move to New York." Many of my favorite restaurants, bars, shops, food trucks, and park trails I've fallen in love with as a NYC resident and not as a mere dreamer in Connecticut. 

I've discovered what I love about the city by living here, not just fantasizing anymore. I now realize the element which differentiates "dreaming" and "living" applies to many aspects of life such as becoming a grownup.

I was a mere dreamer in Connecticut--by slack12 via Flickr

Aside from some encouragement from my girlfriends, no one is going to make me go out and taste the city alone. Moreover, I'm fully dependent on myself to not only function as an adult (get out of bed, go to work, do a good job, feed myself, not go broke, get home safe, etc.), but to surround myself with what it is that I love about New York.

During the week I'm required to choose between different groups of friends, my me time, my job, the gym, and my laundry. It's that simple. But on the weekends, the entire pace of my world flips upside down and I'm living in the world of Michelle and Stephen. If that world were perfectly balanced, I'd be able to shift gears seamlessly and adapt without oversleeping, losing my Metrocard, waiting an hour in Grand Central, blowing off girlfriends, blowing off Stephen, feeling guilty, resentful, torn, or having a meltdown on public transportation. 

I've waited an hour in busy Grand Central Station.--by Stewart Morris via Flickr

I've learned to shift gears quickly. Flexibility is key, especially when one person is living in a place where amazing opportunities can surface in a New York minute. Sometimes all of the stars align in the universe, and other times --- not. 

For example, recently my three friends invited me to have brunch at Alice's Tea Cup, check out the Matisse exhibit at The Met, then walk through Central Park. It would have been a reflection of my perfect day with three of my favorite people, but I had to stick to my original boyfriend plans for the weekend. I couldn't help but feel slightly bitter, but my friends reminded me that those things will always be there. 

My friends reminded me that things like the Met and Central Park will always be there.--photo courtesy of Michelle Carol

Of course, there have been scenarios where I canceled plans with Stephen, like when one of my favorite artists was giving a free rooftop concert at The Standard Hotel. And I've postponed dinner plans with friends because I missed Stephen more than I could handle. It's never a perfect world.

I know one thing --- I'm glad that I moved to Manhattan. Living in New York City has enhanced my perspective of the city, my relationship, and my life 1000 percent.  Maybe one day Stephen will stop dragging his feet and want to live here too. He feels more comfortable now and NYC has begun to feel like an alternate home for us. 

As for our long-distance relationship, he and I appreciate and look forward to the time we're able to spend together. And when we're apart, we're content with our own friends, hobbies, and experiences wherever we are. 

Five months ago, I would've said that I wanted to move here because I love New York.  Now, I realize that I do love New York, and of course, I love Stephen. But more than anything, I realize that I moved to this great city because I love myself more, and anyone or any place else is a runner-up.

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