For my NYC send off on Monday, I spent the morning writing at my favorite coffee shop. Later that day, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri, USA. I made the decision during a trip to CA, which meant I only had six days back in my fair city to pick up a few catering shifts, mail everything home that I didn’t donate and feel all the feels.

Time with Mom

My mom’s sick. She was in the hospital for a week in March and then again for 10 days over Mother’s Day. On the bright side, she’s back at work and her routine of spending hours in her yard. Being that I had no formal commitments in NYC, I had the flexibility and privilege to move home to be with her.

St. Louis, Missouri

I haven’t been back to my hometown in four years and apart from friends and family, I haven’t missed it. It’s a beautiful city with lots to do and an affordable cost of living but it’s also landlocked, part of a red state and is not what I would describe as cosmopolitan. Though to be fair, family circumstances and other traumas tainted my impression of the city many moons ago. Nine years of living on the east coast and lots of international adventures and a very challenging unemployment period later have mellowed me out. “Ah, but I was so much older then: I’m younger than that now.”

Aside from having time with my mom, St. Louis provides the “space” to continue to build my companies and get back to a consistent and rich exercise routine. NYC is an international, high-energy, finger-on-the-pulse, all-consuming, moving cyclone pulling you in and tapping in to all of your senses. I lose myself in her and as my friend said to me, “It take discipline to be a free spirit.” A city that doesn’t distract with FOMO facilitates building structure. It will also serve as a springboard to continue to explore the world. I built a rich network of Latinos, wine geeks, travelers and digital nomads while in NYC. Meetup.com, Facebook.com groups and the like shift the community-development game. I’m counting on it to find my fellow warriors in St. Louis.

A Love Letter to NYC

Leaving NYC was hard, like leaving the love-of-your-life hard, which is why I told very few friends there. I left as in love with her as I was during my first visit 18 years ago. When you’re soaring she’ll keep you grounded but conversely when you’re down she illuminates the path. In the seven years I lived there, she didn’t make me hard or doubt her. I never found her overwhelming but like those electromagnetic cranes that pick up cars, 196 countries are pulling on me. My journey beckons exploration and the challenge of starting over and over. I’m uncertain if I will ever be her humble resident again but I will approach every stay in the beautiful concrete jungle as I did the first time, with eyes and heart wide open.

The day I left her, I could have taken a relatively affordable uber but instead I took the E train to the Q70 bus with four bags on a rainy, traffic-filled Monday to be a New Yorker for as long as I could. I needed the struggle and subsequent satisfaction. Fitting that rain symbolizes a cleanse or fresh start in literature. Later, I began to silently ugly cry as the plane started taxi-ing. No one seemed to notice as I was in a single-seat row looking out the window and the flight was half full. We started taking off and passed a “Welcome to New York” sign. I could not contain the sound of my crying any longer but the roar of the engine masked it. Quickly the plane glided into the clouds and the bright homogenous whiteness calmed me and I stopped crying.

Like the plane surrounded by clouds, “The only way out is through” so through I will go.