My family and I moved to New York City.
We had a really good life in St. Louis, an amazing place to raise a family. We were living in one of the best school districts in the nation. We had a beautiful home. We even had loving neighbors and a rich community around us. My mom lived two floors down from us and could babysit at any time.
Right now, some of you might be saying, “Boy, you are stupid!”
And, I would be lying to you if I told you that I didn’t feel like a fool many days as we were selling our cars, home, furniture (at fire-sale prices). I felt stupid when I picked up the 26-foot truck to move all of our stuff. That’s when it dawned on me how big a 26-foot truck was. It was hard to get the sense of the size of a truck when we booked it on our phone. But, in person, it was massive. I almost cried when I first saw it, because I realized that I would have to thread that hulking beast between the narrow streets of NYC. I had a minor panic attack. Driving the truck to New York was hard, but that’s not even talking about living in the city.
In my twenties and thirties, I lived here when I was single. And, it’s tough enough to survive here as a single person, but having a family amplifies the challenges. When I was single, I didn’t have to think about getting my kid into a good school. Friendships were just my buddies and me going out for drinks. Now, both my wife and son need friends. Where do we go to find friends with whole families? Is there a whole family dating app where we can swipe right? Probably not. Then there are the financial differences. Affording to live in NYC as a single person is not easy because it costs four times more just to put a roof over your head. Then add a couple of other people to the budget, and it only gets more interesting.
So, why did we choose this route if it is so hard?
When we were living in St. Louis, we could map out our lives. If we looked to the future, we could see how our lives were going to go. My work might change a bit; we’d still hang out with our lovely friends and family; our son would go to a great school then graduate; I could retire if I wanted to. My wife and I would take our daily walks, and we’d have a lovely life. Our lives would be predictable, easy. And, we didn’t want that. We wanted adventure. We wanted great possibilities. I wanted to be inspired. I didn’t want a good life; I wanted a great one. One of my greatest fears in life is to be on my deathbed regretting not even trying to reach for a great life. So, we left.
Now, I realize that I sound pretty narcissistic at this point. I did initiate the move, but, all along the way, my wife and I talked about this. She loved New York. She had the power to veto the move. And I told her that if she didn’t want to move, we could find a way to make St. Louis work. But, it was something that she wanted, too, even though she knew that we would be leaving a wonderful situation. She grieved leaving her fantastic kitchen and double sink bathroom. But, what was hardest for her (and me) was leaving the beloved people. I once heard it said that if you move from a city and don’t feel any grief over the people, you probably did something wrong. I’m grateful that leaving St. Louis felt like ripping our hearts out. But, thank God for FaceTime and airplanes.
New York has always had a gravitational pull on me. It started with my first visit when I was 22 and hasn’t ended. More than the convenience of having some of the best food, drink, shopping, and events right outside my door, I was gripped by how living here made me feel. These days I don’t even eat out much anymore since my wife isn’t able to because of health issues. And, having fun for me means being at home playing with my son and sharing a home cooked meal with my family. But what draws me to this city is that I feel inspired here. It’s one of the few places where I’m inspired every day. When I walk the streets, I get a sense that almost anything is possible. It’s where I don’t just fly, I soar.
After driving cross-country in an obnoxiously large yellow truck with a friend who was loving enough to fly from NYC to join me on the road trip, we made it. I didn’t crash the truck or rip any side-view mirrors off of cars parked on the street. And, the person at the drop-off station told me that I would need to street park the truck, which meant I would need to parallel park the beast. Thank God, I got there just as people left to commute home, and the street had plenty of parking.
After dropping off the truck, I started walking home on the High Line, a park that was built on an old abandoned elevated train track. It has miles of magnificent gardens growing around well-carved paths several feet above the streets. It’s an oasis that seems to hover in the air. People from all over the world were pulsating around me as I heard them speaking in their native tongues. I had no idea what they were saying, but it sounded beautiful. We all were looking around at the green, red, blue, purple colors splayed before us. It was oddly serene to be surrounded by such natural and cultivated beauty while walking in the midst of a city. Brick, glass and steel buildings surrounded us. They reflected the orange sun that was setting just west of us. The Hudson River was sparkling like gold as it reflected the sun’s rays. As I briskly walked home to see my family, I wasn’t just flying; I was soaring.
From the moment I asked my wife to part with her beloved kitchen and move into one of the most challenging cities to raise a family, we all have experienced pain. We left a good life to attempt to reach a great one.
It’s hard to say if we will succeed. But, our story isn’t over yet.
It’s just begun.