Standing in the kitchen, my now roommate asks where I am moving.
Carroll Gardens, I say.
That's really far from here, she replies.
Yeah. That's kind of the point.
And that is about as much as we say, one to the other, punting more silence than words.
I remember when on of my dearest friends, who I met just over a year ago-when I was already so much better--said, I never go above fourteenth. And how at that time I hardly went below it.
14th street, the dividing line. Demarcation of past and present.
I'll still go above it. To get to work, to pay my bills. To take classes. But I wonder if now I'll still feel the pull of the Upper West Side where I spent those formative years in school, if I'll still head there to run errands which, in all honesty, can be done anywhere.
I wonder if in moving so far from here and that being the point I am attempting to raze the past. To raze the New York I knew when life was such that people said to me well, at least you have your health, me knowing that was the one thing I did not have. And how to exist is not to live. How it was not a life then.
In deconstructing my room now, in slowly packing box after box, I come across photos from five years ago when we went as a family to Australia. There are two photos of me with my mother. One in front of the ocean, the other in front of a Christmas tree, and in both I am large. Big. Rounded face, wide torso. I'll happily tell people that I gained forty pounds, but with almost no pictures spanning those six years I don't think about the reality of what that looked like. I'll think about how it made me feel and the logistics of what a person must do in order to gain so much weight, but I won't think about what I saw in the mirror or what the click of a camera revealed--that's mostly too hard.
I'm not sure how I have these two photos--how they survived the usual single rip that led to the trashcan. But sitting on the floor, the past in my hands, I find I am so grateful for them. That happened, I didn't make it up. I didn't dream it. What luck that they survived to see this day. What luck that I survived to live this day.
I am surprised by this, but, I find I am thankful for these two photos in the way that I am thankful to have a singular photo of the man I once loved looking at me as one hopes to be looked at. Once upon a time, he saw me. Once upon a time that happened. I suppose I will put these two photos in the same box in which I have tucked his photo. I won't need to look at any of the three, but will be glad to have them all.
Yes, there is a part of me looking for a new New York. I can confidently say that. A New York for the woman I am now--the one who has her health. And so has life.
Standing in the kitchen, my roommate asks what stop I'll live off. And while I don't say it to her, I think, the one adjacent to a Momofuku Milk Bar. No longer will I have to pass a group of men with following eyes to enter the subway, instead the danger will be chocolate. And soft serve. And warm, baked goods. I'm moving to a veritable candy land--a grown-up-willy-wonka-dream-world where sweets are just the start. I'm pinching myself with how lucky this feels.
Somewhere in this search for a new apartment--and the discussion of a need for a home--my father warned that perhaps I was looking at it from the wrong angle. That maybe home wasn't dependent on a place. And I knew what he was getting at. Sort of. And so as I searched there came this realization, this thought, I am home now. In my body. I am at home in my body and it's certainly the first time since I moved to New York that I can say that. And maybe that's why I couldn't find a home all the time before. Because I wasn't at home with myself. In my own skin. In my own life. In health. And this realization, this thought that I carry home with me, well it shifts things. It is a freedom of monumental worth.
The freedom to fall in love with Carroll Gardens. But not to need it. The freedom to want to move there simply because I like it. Not for any other reason than that I find it heart-achingly beautiful and I think I might be really happy there. The freedom to say that I carry my home with me and the home I know might really like this place. This place with a Momofuku Milk Bar and tree lined streets, this place so deliciously south of 14th.