The other morning someone called me around 6:45am. She assumed I was in NYC and was startled by my groggy morning voice. Another new friend just asked me if I was on an upcoming flight with her, leaving out of JFK. She seemed puzzled when I told her I live in LA and not in the West Village. What’s worse is that I paused before answering her, like I might actually be flying from NY.
As I pack for my 10th trip to the East Coast this year, it hits me—this is my 10th trip to the East Coast this year! And I still have a Christmas visit to look forward to. Of the 120,000 miles I will fly this year (woo hoo, 1k status!), almost 54,000 of them were logged traveling to NY/NJ.
I have embraced so much of the California lifestyle in my first 2.5 years here: I moved to the beach, I started doing yoga, I drive everywhere instead of walking, I got blonder, I eat kale, I even bought a beach cruiser (ok, I hate riding it but it’s super cute and has a little white basket). My NY friends all say “You’re so LA”. I think they mean it in a good way. I hope. I look the part of a SoCal girl.
But there is a huge part of me that is stuck in NY/NJ. The part that feels like living in NYC for 10 years was a rite of passage that comes with bragging rights. The part that remembers the devastation of September 11th not from tv footage, but because I watched one of the towers fall, through the rear windshield of a cab while fleeing up the West Side Highway. The part that always clarifies “I JUST moved here from Manhattan” in an annoyingly superior tone. The part that will ALWAYS choose Biggie over Tupac, and the Yankees over the Dodgers.
Part of my heart is stuck 2,450 miles away.
I was supposed to be in NJ last week, during the worst hurricane to hit the area in my lifetime. For the first time ever, I had canceled my trip–not because of weather, not because of a scheduling conflict, but because I just wasn’t up for it. I was tired, I had flown home 2 weeks earlier, I had a last minute work trip 2 weeks later….it was just too much. So I canceled.
And then Sandy arrived.
I was initially so relieved that I was not there. It was like the universe threw me a bone and decided to cut me a break, possibly after stranding me during 5 weather-canceled flights in 2011. But once that relief passed, I felt…left out. Disconnected. Guilty. For the first time since my move west, I felt like I was in the wrong place. I thought, ‘I’m a New Yorker, a Jersey girl, I should be in the dark with my friends and family, swimming up Hudson St or waiting in line at the gas station with my mom. I should have been there’.
Which is ridiculous. I wouldn’t wish the situation that the area is going through on anyone. My being there would not have helped anyone–it would have just been one more person fighting for a hot shower and a cell phone charge. Why couldn’t I remember (and be happy) that my home is now here, in LA? Did I want the “I Survived Sandy” tv shirt so badly I would have actually wanted to live through it? Enough. It’s time to move on.
When I return to California on Monday, I need to bring the rest of my heart back with me. I will always love my East Coast roots, but it’s time to put down real roots in LA, and embrace my West Coast life. Stay here on weekends instead of flying cross country every month. Invest more time and love into my relationships here. Adopt a sports team so I’m not always rooting against the local teams (Go Lakers?). BE PRESENT in this wonderful life I have created here.
I might even include some Tupac on the playlist.