My second time moving to New York.
At the time my heart was too heavy to entertain the thought, but in hindsight I do wonder if anyone sitting in the Grand Rapids airport around me was feeling like I was. Technically, I had already moved to New York three weeks before. But I can tell you that my heart was not yet aware of this.
I had come home to stand up in my good friend Aaron's wedding. The wedding had been planned since before I even applied to graduate school. In fact, I had to make special arrangements because of a school event I would be missing due to the wedding. It was an incredibly full weekend. Lots of fun. So wonderful to see so many of my people — even surprising a number of them when I showed up at church. The wedding and reception were two of the best I've been to. I even got to bring a date (it occurs to me that I have a very low date to wedding ratio which I think is due in part to attending so very many weddings). I drove by my former apartment and thought fondly of it. I stayed the weekend in a home that in many ways feels like my own.
The weekend ended with a rush just like it began. After an impromptu lunch (loosely in my honor) following church, I raced back to the home of the friends who were hosting me in order to pack. Then we all zoomed off to the airport. Of course, regulations have long since prevented those who are not flying from sitting at the gate. So after all the joy and energy of the weekend, there I sat. Suddenly alone with my thoughts. Waiting for an airplane. Surrounded by stillness. I had to wake up the man next to me when his aisle was called for boarding.
When I flew away the first time I knew I would be back in three weeks. In fact, it seems some part of me didn't really let go of home because I knew I would be back in three weeks. Because I needed to be back in three weeks.
This time there were no tearful goodbyes. No lengthy sendoff with a small crowd gathered. Because of the time crunch it was a few hurried goodbyes and a couple messages confirming that I made it to my flight. When I landed in Cleveland for a layover, there were no heartfelt text messages or tweets or emails expressing love and best wishes. It was silence in the air. And silence on the ground.
This time there was no familiar face to meet me at the airport and help me get settled for my first few days. I landed in New York with all my belongings (most still in boxes) waiting for me at an apartment in Brooklyn. I knew just where to stand outside La Guardia airport. I knew which bus to catch. I knew how to use my metro card. I had a student ID in my wallet. I had assignments and reading waiting for me. Now I realize that it was this second trip that really took me away to New York. It was this flight that really left me homesick. That really made it real.
It also happened to be the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the day that I moved to New York City for the second time. There had been much remembrance of the events ten years earlier. But overall the mood was one of not forgetting but moving on. And so maybe on the day I truly moved to New York it was fitting that I was in a place of always remembering but also trying to move on.