I left Canada on September 9th, and to be honest, I didn’t intend to write about the following five day layover in New York. I figured this tiny stopover to connect with some friends in a city I just left would not be worth posting about. But I guess, because in the two years that I lived in New York, I never once left the city for more than 10 days at a time, coming back after being away for two months managed to bring up certain emotions that I can’t quite skip over without mentioning.
I flew into New York from Toronto on a tiny 30-seater plane. The skies were clear and even before we landed, I could easily make out the different parts of the city. I found myself fondly looking down at Manhattan, Central Park, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Fire Island, Roosevelt Island, the Hudson, the East River. It all looked so peaceful, so beautiful from the airplane – such a contrast to the concrete jungle I had excitedly left just two months ago.
The nostalgia was unexpected. When I landed, everything…and I really mean everything – from the grimy subways to the halal food trucks to the throngs of people – everything felt so familiar, so comfortable and yet somehow so distant.
But alas, two months in “New York time” feels like two days, and most of my friends were surprised to see me back so soon, let alone understand my feelings of nostalgia. In fact, even I didn’t have much time to think about it – as is always the case in this city, my schedule quickly got packed with activities and outings, leaving little time to process emotions. I spent most of my five days running around trying to meet people and socialize. Breakfast, lunch, brunch, coffee, happy hour, dinner, dessert – all were an opportunity to catch up with someone different and revisit another favorite shop, restaurant or neighborhood. It was a ton of fun, but equally tiring. I had forgotten how hectic life in New York was and soon found myself exhausted and a little overwhelmed. How did I have the energy to live and work and play here for two years? I was amazed at how quickly I had lost the stamina that had been so effortless before.
And then, in what felt like a New York minute, it was time to go. As I boarded my flight out, the waves of nostalgia and fondness for the city came back. Now, I realize that no matter what, I am always going to love New York. This city with its craziness, its energy, its buzz, will always be special to me. But at the same time, I also realize that I no longer feel hesitant to leave. New York will definitely be one of those cities that I will always want to visit because of all the great memories associated with it. But my premature feelings of nostalgia also make me think that New York may just be a thing of the past for me now – a place I once lived in and loved and made the most of…and then moved on from.