Five years ago I moved to NYC, slightly apprehensive about only one thing — every time I had visited in the years prior, there was this unbelievable majesty I felt as I approached the city, an anticipation of the magic and energy that I was about to experience — the only thing I was worried about was that I never wanted that feeling to go away. Well, as I sit in seat 20B on my last flight out of NY with no return scheduled, I can certainly say that I had nothing to worry about. New York will always have a literal awesomeness to it that is likely, impossible to match.
I leave NY, similarly to how I came in, excited, quickly, and confident about my decision.
After spending a post-college year in Western MA, I knew that I needed a bigger playground where I could interact with some hyper-ambitious peers. After a few NYC visits full of Meetups, tech events, and sushi-sake, I was hooked on the shear magnitude of it all. At one of these NY events, I found someone who would go on to become the CTO of eHighlighter (and quickly afterwards, definitely NOT the CTO of eHighlighter — hire slow, fire quick, ya’ll). All the vectors clearly pointed towards the City. So in Oct 2012, I decided to take a trip to look at places to live. On my way down I looked at a couple places in Stamford, CT (hey I didn’t know); but after just one afternoon in Brooklyn, I found a place in Greenpoint — I knew Brooklyn was my new home.
And man was I right. I absolutely loved my time in Brooklyn. It was exhilarating, eye opening, exhausting, exciting, etc etc etc — but it was home. I made some of the most incredible friends I’ve ever known, or will ever know. NY is the only place in the world where I could host friends from every step of my life — Rochester, TX, Amherst, Choate, NY, math camp, MN, startup world — at the same party.
I had some wins (I learned to code, I met my person, one chess match in Union Square), some losses (consumer apps are a bad idea, a lot of rent, the dozens of other matches I played), but overall, nothing can outweigh the win of just being there, the authentic experiences — from 3am conversations, to 4am pizza slices, to walking through Grand Central, to pitching VCs, to seeing pissed off people in the street, to smelling literal piss in the subway.
One of my favorite quotes/philosophies is that “the true journey of discovery comes, not from seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. Well, in my opinion, there is no better place to try on a million different lenses than in the City that never sleeps.
Now I moved around a bunch, and the question “where are you from” will never get a straightforward answer. Often I very much feel like I’m “from” Texas — the weather, tacos, and southern hospitality very much agrees with me (also my family is still there). One of my go-to lines explaining why I’m from TX, when I was born in upstate NY, is that “ages 13 to 18 are pretty formative years of ones life”. Often as I reflect on growing up, getting older, and heavy shit like mortality, I remind myself that, if I’m going to live to 90, while I’m biologically a ~third of way through my life, my adult life just got started 5 years ago, and I’m only 8% in. Well, if your teenage years are key to your overall formation, then 24 to 29 are probably the most formative years of your adult life, and the foundation for the remaining 92% is all thanks to you NY, NY.
I always knew that NYC would just be the start, but also didn’t realize it would end this quickly. Hell, we made the final decision to move to Chicago under a month ago. But it also feels right — it feels really right. Chicago is the perfect city to work on a transportation startup, Zeke was already here, and its a step back from the constant, hard, frenetic energy of the L train that my body & mind was ready for. I always knew I loved that Baz Luhrman song, I just didn’t know I would follow the advice so literally.
In the Windy City I’m looking forward to so many things — starting a life with Maggie, starting a business with Zeke, summers by the lake, buying an affordable ticket to Hamilton, o, and saying hi to strangers (turns out you can have everything you need in a city, AND nice people — who knew?!).
NY — I fucking love you. This chapter means so so much to me. I will miss you, and come back so many more times. Nothing will compare, I don’t expect it to.