I could have subtitled this: It's Been a Blast, What I've Learned. Why I'm Leaving.
This is a different sort of article for me. I usually write in the business section and I write a pretty serious column about Cancer in the Workplace. Today, I'm driven to begin a series about the excitement of living in NYC for the past 9+ years, why I loved it, why I'm leaving it, where I'm going. I hope it's helpful. Perhaps it will move you to "reinvent" yourself ... at any age.
A little history:
My parents were born in NY and moved to Miami, FL when they were pregnant with me. We always came to NY to visit grandparents and family. I loved it even then, as a wee child. I always said that someday, I would live here. My life took me in many directions. I moved from Miami, to Japan for two years, then to Chicago for graduate school (and got married), then to Austin, TX for a new career and to raise my child.
In 2005, as I approached my 60th birthday, I was living in Austin, TX where I'd been for 20 years. In the interim, I raised my kid, grew my career, balanced a marriage, but ultimately, left that marriage. So, at age 59, I was on my own. It was wonderful, scary, exhilarating and liberating and at times, lonely.
But, back to 2005. A funny thing happened. I began getting this "inkling" ... this annoying nudge from somewhere inside myself that I might want to leave the womb of Austin and move elsewhere for a new adventure. So, in early January of 2006, just after my 60th birthday, I took a trip to NYC for what I called a "relocation consideration." I spent 10 glorious days, in a sublet, knowing no one. Before going, I reached out via email to folks I knew and said, "who do you know in NYC that I should meet?" Well, I met many. At the end of the 10 day visit, my mind was made up ... I was going to move to NYC. It had been a life-long dream to live there. Finally, this was the right time.
Lesson One: You are never too old to follow a dream.
So, in March of 2006, having been divorced for a few years, and having completed my "raising" of my now adult son, I decided I would FINALLY make that move to the Big Apple. So, at age 60, I sold everything and moved here.
I came with my basic belongings, no furniture, my two adult cats. My son drove me cross country, in a rented van and dropped me off, like he was taking me to college. (He stayed a few days to make sure I was settling in and because he loves NY too.) It's been an incredible ride here.
My first memory is of us driving across the George Washington bridge at about 9:30 a.m. on March 15th, 2006. My son was driving, so I was in the passenger seat. I saw the NY skyline, clear as day. I cried. I was finally reaching a lifelong goal.
Lesson Two: Never underestimate the value of friends AND ask them for help when needed.
How does a 60 year old woman move to NYC, alone, self-employed? I don't know, but I did it. I put one foot in front of another, moved into an apartment that was offered through a relative (but who wasn't living there) and there I stayed for 6 years (and then 3 ½ in another apartment). I grew professionally, personally. It's been the best experience I could imagine. I even made it through Breast Cancer, on my own, but with a little help from my friends. I thought I would probably live out my life here in the Big Apple.
Lesson Three: Know when to hold them, Know when to fold them.
But, now, in 2015, that has changed. Nothing is forcing me to leave. I just think that the universe is providing that option as a more viable one right now. The stars have aligned, etc.
How did this decision get made?
After living far away from my adult son (my only child) and having cancer (nearly 6 years ago), I began to think about being far away from him. Then, two years ago, he had his own bout with cancer. Thank God, they got it all and he is fine. But, I started to think harder about being so far away. For the past year, it's been niggling in my brain that I should go there. However, since I love NYC so much, I would push it back and ruminate about the decision.
Lesson Four: Listen to your internal rumblings ...they tell the truth.
So, the universe steps in. The apartment I've lived in for the past 3 ½ years is now being sold. (I rent) Everything here is so expensive, I feel a bit priced-out as I look around. Then, a light bulb went on - THIS IS THE TIME. So, I'm moving.
I'll write about this - the going piece first - the leaving NYC. How do I say goodbye to friends, the city, the parts I love?
I created my "Before I Leave NY Bucket List" - things to do ... either for the first time or again. Does it mean I'll never be back. Hardly. In fact, I hope to generate more work that will bring me here frequently ... to be sort of a dual dweller.
So, what have I done so far on my bucket list?
• Spent a Friday evening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, listening to chamber music on the balcony, drinking wine and then meandering through one of the most beautiful exhibits I've ever seen... The China Exhibit.
• Walked the High Line ... a beautiful rural park in NYC created on old above-ground railroad tracks
• Went to the New Whitney Museum ... all American based art, mostly modern
• Went to the Bronx Zoo
• Strolled around various parts of Brooklyn
There are many more items and I'll write about them as time progresses.
Lesson Five: Appreciate the Moment wherever you are.
I'll be continuing this series about this move. I hope it will inspire others to "go for it.
Ann Fry is the Workplace Cancer and Disease Crisis Coach. She trains managers to engage and support people at work who are impacted by Cancer or a major illness (either their own or that of a loved one.) She's the person to call when the Executive teams needs to "triage" and sort through the crisis when one of their own is impacted. She can facilitate the conversation and help set the strategy for moving forward. She is also a transition coach, helping people ReInvent at any age or under any circumstance.