Comments 23

Manhattan, Do I Have to Love You Back?

4-up on 10-20-12 at 3.39 PM #5 (compiled)

On a list of things that I am good at, with solving algebraic equations at the very bottom of the list, and writing down my feelings being at the top of the list, admitting when something is hard for me is somewhere between being able to do the Dougie and knowing where my metro card is.

Note: I have no idea how to do the Dougie, nor can I teach YOU how to Dougie. I THINK my metro card MAY be in one of my coat pockets? It could also be at the bottom of my purse. Actually, I think I saw it on the kitchen table. So…there’s that.

Admitting that I didn’t feel the same way about a boy who told me he loved me, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to admit. I wanted so badly to make it easy.  I wanted to remind him of the times driving around in his car listening to music, reading poetry, and sitting on the rocks at the beach until after midnight. I wanted to remind him of the years I spent trying to get him to love me back. I wanted to remind him that he let me go. I wanted him to understand that the slivers of the past have become the scars on my fingertips, from trying to learn how to play the guitar with hopes of impressing him when I was 17 years old.

They will be part of who I am forever.

I wanted so badly to be able to say, “I love you for who you have helped me become, and for showing me why loving you back could be a very toxic thing. I love you, and not in the same way that you want me to, but it’s there, and it’s real, and I hope that it’s enough.”

Instead, I said, “I’m sorry.”

It was not enough.

It was hard.

Admitting that living in New York is truly difficult, is truly difficult in itself. There is this emphasis on success that comes with moving to the city. I hail from a small town, which wraps its arms around me every time I return, and pulls me close when it knows it’s time for me to leave again. In New York, I feel like a character in The Sims, and everyone around me is walking around with those mustard yellow diamonds over their heads, indicating that they are only sort of happy.

Some days, mine is red.

Note: Thanks to “The Google” I now know those diamond things are called Plumbobs. You’re welcome.

There are mornings where getting out of bed is a challenge. I lie in my bed alone staring at the radiator as it spits and hisses at me. I imagine myself back in a place where chirping birds out sing police sirens. Morning subway traffic is a boxing ring with too many fighters, and cigarette smoke attacks my lungs all along 23rd street. Each day, I stop at the flatiron building and gaze up. I take a moment to be grateful for my opportunities here, before getting caught up in the 9-6 haze of trying to convince myself that I am invincible.

Sometimes, it just feels like too much. I am not one for pretending. New York is challenge. On Mondays, the city swallows me whole. It spits me back out, to be gulped down again Tuesday morning. Like an argument between lovers, it exhausts me. I wonder if forcing myself to try to love this city is like forcing myself to try to love that boy. There are moments when the city lets me shine; it lets me go first. It lets me float to surface long enough to catch my breath before trying to drown me again.

I know New York City is meant to make me stronger, in the way that a troubled relationship is meant to help you grow. It is meant to keep me up at night wondering if I’ve made all the right moves.  Chances are I haven’t. I am determined to stay long enough to learn something about myself as a woman, as a human, as a 20 something.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? I am in my 20s, with no real obligations other than to work hard, become exhausted, become fed up, want to quit, yet push myself to work harder.

Maybe there will come a day where I’ll say, “Enough.”

Not today.



  1. This is a beautiful post, Carley. As always, I’m blown away by your words & your realness & by the shattering of my own mental picture of someone else’s life. Thanks for always pushing – yourself, the rest of us.

  2. Wow Kate, what an amazing compliment! I, too, am always blown away by your blog posts. I’m glad we found each other randomly in our little town way back when, and I hope NJ is treating you well now!

  3. ldawg562 says

    Loved this post Carley! I have felt many of the same things and I finally came to the point where I decided to say goodbye to NYC. Back to NH for me. However I will visit often and it will always hold a place in my heart. 🙂

  4. I can definitely relate to this. There are many mornings when I wake up and wonder, “Why do I do this?” while trying to pull the covers up over my head… and the less I leave the city, the worse I find it gets.

    I’ve found that I have to leave the city for a few days to really appreciate why I’ve chosen to live here over say… New Hampshire. When I go back up there to visit all my folks, the appreciation of all the little things spring forth…

    It’s being able to walk out my door at 2 in the morning and being able to buy a sandwich. It’s being able to walk five minutes and be somewhere instead of sitting in a car for fifteen. It’s being able to have a drink and not have to worry about driving home. It’s being able to call up any one of a number of friends and ask to go out for dinner or a drink and have them say yes, instead of making up some lame excuse about a television show being on and trying to schedule you in a week from now.

    I don’t imagine I’ll be here forever, but while I can still hack it… I’m happy to call it home.

  5. I love the honesty peppered with optimism Carley. So often we are afraid to share what’s really on our mind – especially those moments of extreme vulnerability. We see all these “overnight successes” and tend to forget that for every victory there were often ten stumbles. I think it’s so important to share both the highs and lows – so those that inevitably share the human trough of emotion know they aren’t alone. Thanks for this. I know you’ll do great wherever tomorrow leads.

  6. I think any 20 something living in New York can relate. As magically as New York can be its also incredibly trying. I know that I will be a life long New Yorker ( atleast in the suburbs if not the city) but I want to get out for a few years before I stay forever……

    • I think, for me at least, what keeps me here is the chance for growth. I think as humans, and as young people, we MUST branch out and see other things. For me, New York is one of the “other things” I NEEDED to see and experience. I’m still only six months into my life in New York, and even though it’s overwhelming at times, I’m excited for the future! Thank you so much for reading!

  7. Hi Carley,
    I can definitely relate. I lived in NYC from 2008-2009 and have made multiple trips back (mainly business, some pleasure), since.

    For me it’s a bit of love-hate with the Big Apple; it’s one of those rare places that can make me feel exhausted and invigorated, all at once.

    I actually think it’s a misnomer to think metropolitan/urban living is necessary for growth (because I think growth is a personal journey that can be had just as well in a variety of places/spaces/environments- case in point, the maturing I did in going across the country for college still occurred in friends of mine who stayed close to home). And yet, I too felt a pull towards a big city to spread my wings, hence my time in NYC.

    My partner and I are now getting ready for a move back to a concrete jungle (we currently live in Austin, TX), but to which coast, we haven’t decided (a job will likely sway that choice). I feel ready for adventure, but at the same time, I know that my soul will always take refuge in the quiet, nature-inspired moments – so wherever we end up, I know I’ll be reconnecting with my inner self by the water, at a park, or under a tree – even if said water, park or tree sits adjacent to skyscrapers.

    Best of wishes on your journey. And hugs for those ambivalent (yet self-reflective) moments in NYC.
    Always, S

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! Every moment is certainly self reflective, though sometimes not until days later. I try to remain as present as possible here, and I know I’ve matured so much even in the short six months I’ve lived here. I think every travel experience, whether to another country, or to another city, has helped shape who I have become.

      Growth is definitely a personal journey, but I was perhaps not necessarily seeking urban living, and more seeking larger and more vast opportunities (which just happened to present themselves in Manhattan).

      Appreciative of your well wishes and hugs! Thanks for reading. xo

      • My pleasure, Carley. Thanks for your reply as well!

        I know what you mean about opportunities being in urban places, but not necessarily seeking out such places independently. For some career pursuits, that seems to be the way.

        I’ve thoroughly enjoyed many of your posts over the last couple of years since I came across your blog, and truly wish you the best.

        Hope to write again soon!
        Happy Holidays & almost 2013,

  8. I think that any girl in her 20s living in NY is facing a lot of challenges, but this city can also offer you so much, that in the end all sacrifices were worth it! I love NYC!

    • I definitely love what the city has to offer! I can’t deny that it is a thriving city, and I try to engulf myself with every experience. Still, I struggle to honestly say that I LOVE living in New York, but I sort of think that’s okay!

  9. I admire your courage. As someone looking to move to a big city from a small town, I look up to you. This was beautifully written. Glad to see you here always, even if it isn’t as often as prior days :).

  10. This was wonderful. Props to you for sticking it out – good days and bad, and for letting it help you grow. I feel like most of the reason I’m moving around and wanting to move around is for that too – to grow and learn things about myself.

  11. I lived in NYC for a few years, too, and it nearly ruined me. Then I moved away and found that things weren’t much better anywhere else. I think the problem wasn’t so much the actual city, but rather the pressure to live up to that idealized New York fantasy… The problem with NYC is there’s so much going on, you constantly feel like you’re missing out on SOMETHING.

    • I think my problem has been less worrying about missing out, and more trying to focus on everything at once. I lost myself a little when I moved here, but I’m starting to find myself again! Thanks for reading, Gabriel.

  12. i Could see the quest in your eyes. the hunger of growth and fortune on one hand & ‘will’ on the other. I liked the way you expressed your story. I could actually feel the power of time & faith within innerself. #just Conversations. Keep digging. All the best.

  13. Pingback: Things That I Don’t Instagram. | findingravity

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