First up: Wonderful responses to hurry up vegan! Glad you liked the pasta dish, and can’t wait to do more of these posts. In all of the excitement about my pasta, I missed an important anniversary: yesterday marked one whole month since my move to DC. I made it! In honor of my first full month as a District resident (and NYC away from home), I’ve compiled a little list of the most important things I’ve learned since arriving.
New place are exciting.
I’ve never thought of myself as a person who likes new things. New people, new jobs, new places, new experiences—sure, I understand why it’s healthy to welcome them into one’s life, but that doesn’t mean I run after them. I like the things I like for a reason.
As I get older, though, I realize that my love of all things familiar is increasingly giving way to another force, which is my love of new beginnings. As daunting as it was to leave publishing this year, I’m enjoying the clean slate, and I’m also excited about the fact that a career in medicine will offer me so many other fresh starts (the start of med school; the start of residencies or fellowships; the start of each relationship with a new patient). DC feels like a fresh start, too. I’m enjoying the novelty of new streets, new sights, new conveniences, and new yoga studios. I didn’t necessarily expect to relish all of this novelty, but I’m relishing it just the same.
Life outside of NYC is a little easier.
Yes, New Yorkers, it’s true. I know you pride yourselves on choosing the thrill of being in the middle of everything over the bourgeois desire for things like square footage, clean subways, low rents, and reasonably priced groceries. I know you’re happy to preference the savvy and eccentricity of New Yorkers over all of the fabled friendliness of people outside of NYC. (Actually, I think it’s kind of a myth that New Yorkers aren’t friendly: we’re very friendly. We’re also very busy. Sue us.) I know you would choose the NYC zipcode over all of the “quality of life” in the world.
But when you’re a student, and you’re poor, and you’re in a program that feels like running a marathon to you on a good day, convenience and kindness and little improvements in your quality of life each and every day are appreciated. It’s nice to pay less rent and have a little more space. It’s nice to deal with a school administration that’s helpful and invested in making your life easier. It’s nice to have a backyard. Would I choose these niceties over the indescribable thrill of being in NYC forever? Maybe not, but I appreciate them a lot right now.
It’s good to be proactive.
Since coming to DC, I’ve hunted down writers, journalists, old friends, family, and new friends like a woman on a mission. Why? Because it’s important for me to connect with book/writing culture (a huge part of my life in New York), and it’s important for me to have a circle of friends I cherish.
I’ve also reached out to some local eating disorder awareness groups and non-profits about volunteering, and I’m lined up for some exciting research work in two local hospitals. I’ve found a yoga studio or two that I adore, I’ve gotten to know Yates Field House, I’ve tried some vegan-friendly restaurants, and I’ve found a couple of daily walks that make me happy.
I haven’t wasted a moment, in other words, in finding activities, people, and places that excite me. And if you move, you shouldn’t either.
Don’t compare other places to NYC.
There’s really no point comparing anyplace else to New York. New York, like all great cities, has character and personality that can’t be summed up by it’s parts. You can’t sit around hoping that if you find a particular restaurant that reminds you of one in NYC, or see an NYC band perform, or find some NYC expats, you’ll suddenly feel as though NYC has come to you. If it were easy to replicate the experience of living there, New York devotees wouldn’t be quite so stubbornly devoted.
What I’ve found, though, is that a big part of my happiness here in DC is because I don’t compare the city to NYC. Instead, I focus upon the things DC offers me that NYC can’t offer me. DC is greener than NYC. It’s a better city for runners. It’s more temperate. It’s less costly. It’s closer to outdoorsy stuff: hiking, biking, etc. It feels a little like living in a park. And it’s home to a number of organizations (PCRM, PETA, COK, and so on) that I admire.
Most of all, I could never wake up in NYC, exit my cozy looking, cottage-like dwelling, sip coffee and do my studies in a back yard that’s quiet and private. Not at this age, anyway. DC gives me a lot of things I couldn’t have back at home, and I’m grateful for them.
It’s good to make new friends.
I’m lucky enough to have a lot of lifelong friends, but I also love to meet new people. Living in DC has brought me a lot closer to Andrea, Valerie, Katie, Kathy, and it’s introduced me to some new, non-blogging friends, too. I’m excited about these new relationships, and thankful for them.
If there’s one thing my DC and NYC academic experiences share, it’s evidence aplenty that post-bacc students are a legit group. It takes guts, I think, to quit whatever job you’ve settled into in your mid or late twenties, commit to another 7 years of school, and brave foreign topics in classrooms full of peppy eighteen-year-olds. Not surprisingly, the men and women who make that choice tend to be driven, focused, and really committed to the idea of helping people. I love my new post-bacc peers, just as I loved my peers at Columbia.
Outdoor dining beats indoor dining. Period.
It’s OK to ask for help.
I like to think of myself as someone who’s capable of handling anything. I pride myself of efficiency and savvy, on productivity and organization. I value my independence above almost anything else. It’s hard for me to admit when things are getting messy, or reach out when I need a hand.
As I’ve mentioned before, moving to DC has been nothing but a humbling exercise in asking for help. And fortunately, I’ve had friends nearby who answered that call with grace and generosity: Kathy, Valerie, Katie and Andrea have been right by my side when things felt confusing or new, and I’m so grateful to them for their friendship!
Home decorating is fun.
I haven’t decorated in a long time, but putting the hobbit House together has proven to be a very fun and consuming challenge. In part because I don’t have the familiarity of NYC at my fingertips, this is the first time I’ve really poured a lot of personality into a living space, and I love what it has yielded:
New York vegans are lucky ducks.
But I’m sorry to say that there’s simply no beating the NYC vegan dining scene. From ice cream to pressed juice bars, raw food to macrobiotics, comfort food to haute cuisine, take out to garden dining, NYC has it all in the way of vegan restaurants. New York veggie lovers, appreciate the dining options at your fingertips. It’s one of the many reasons you’re lucky to be where you are.
Sometimes a change is necessary.
When I quit my job this year and committed to the post-bacc, I was motivated and excited, but I had no idea how hard my program would be. I was also distracted by a long distance relationship, overwhelmed by the novelty of being back in school, and unaccustomed to organizing my time without a desk job to do it for me. I performed decently, but not as well as I’d like, and I have to attribute some of that to feeling distracted and out of focus.
Arriving at Georgetown has given me a whole new sense of motivation and commitment to my program. I prefer the post-bacc program here, which helps, but I think the move also helped me to re-focus, and it galvanized me to do better and work harder than before. The road ahead is still long, but the new scenery is helping.
I’m a New Yorker…
…but I’m not only a New Yorker.
(Photo and intro photo courtesy of Kathy)
Moving to DC has affirmed that, no matter how deeply I identify with the city of my birth, I’m not only an NYC kid. The things that make me who I am—my passions, my interests, my sensibility, my humor—thrive and flourish in New York, but they’re just as vibrant outside of the city. It’s nice to be reminded that I can create a life for myself—a rich and happy life—anywhere.
New cities mean free stuff.
I plan on doing a post soon about my rekindled love affair with yoga (for more on my on-again, off-again relationship with my asanas, read this guest post I wrote for Melissa) thanks to Tranquil Space and Down Dog Yoga, but the immediate point is that I’ve gotten to do some free classes at both studios because I’m new to the city. All fitness places offer some sort of introductory rate for new clients, and part of the fun of being in a new place is exploring what it has to offer by way of fitness, museums, spas, etc. I’m taking advantage of DC’s many fitness offerings (this is a very athletic town), and I hope to do some reviews as I go along!
Beyond that, I’m psyched to explore the city’s free museums, not to mention it’s many student deals for performing arts.
The world really is shrinking.
In spite of the few adorable birthday cards and welcome notes I got in the mail (thanks twins and JL!) I can’t imagine having made this move without email, gchat, skype, and so on. They’ve absolutely closed up what would otherwise feel like a vast distance between me and my NYC friends. As weird as it is not to hop on the crosstown bus every time I’m in the mood for a movie with my friend Gabi, or trot down to the 72nd street Starbucks every time I want coffee with my friend Allison, or meet my friend Tom at some downtown bar or other for a spontaneous drink, I feel pretty close to everyone so far—especially my Mom, who’s the most important friend of all.
Thank goodness for the internet: if blogging isn’t already daily proof of why I’m lucky to live in the digital age, this move surely is.
Not a bad list, eh? What are some lessons you’ve learned from moving in the past? I’d love to hear what being in a new place taught you!