I've been dreading writing this post for a while, because I knew it was going to stir up emotions I'm just not ready to deal with. As many of you already know, we've sold our beloved apartment in Jersey City and are moving out this coming Monday. With each passing day of my last week as a Jersey City resident, my heart breaks more and more. The irony is that this was a move I pushed for. Both my husband Bobby and I knew it was inevitable, but it was me who wanted it sooner rather than later.
You see, sometimes the best decision isn't always the one that feels the best when it's happening. Yes, I'm excited to move into our new house (more on that in the coming weeks), but I'm also devastated to leave Jersey City behind. I love this city, more than I've ever loved any other place I've lived, and the last six years that I've spent here have seen some of the biggest changes and best memories in my life. It was here that I (and my two cats) moved in with my then-boyfriend, now-husband Bobby; brought home our puppy and the love of my life, Molly; donated my kidney; got fired for donating my kidney (something that eventually led me to my current career which I love. Talk about destiny!); got engaged; got married; bought our first home (the one we're tearfully saying goodbye to); and so much more. This city, in all its gritty, artsy, foodie, quirky glory, was the backdrop against which all of these wonderful life moments played out. Moments which can never be remembered without also remembering where they happened.
Jersey City is a part of my DNA, and over the last six years, it's become a huge part of my identity: loving it when it was still the forgotten city on the Hudson, and taking pride in the way it has been revived, while never straying far from what made it great all long. I've been one of its biggest champions and it's the first city that ever made me feel like I was home. So now what? Who do I become when this chunk of myself is no longer a part of my day-to-day life?
While the thought of losing a piece of who I am terrifies me, I know it's the right decision. It's time. I've gotten to a point where the things I once accepted as part of city life, things we give up in exchange for all the wonderful things that urban living has to offer, no longer seem as appealing to me. This has nothing to do with Jersey City itself. I will live and breath this city until I die. It's more about me finding who I am and who I want to be instead of holding on to who I once was.
After a tumultuous few years, during which I went through about every life event you possibly could all at once, I've come to value different things. While I once loved stepping outside my front door right into the heart of all the commotion, I now want grass, and trees, and nature... and quiet. I want a yard where my dog can play and grass I can stick my toes in after a hard day of work and trees that my future children can climb. I want space to spread out and regain a sense of balance; since I work from home, it's become difficult having my professional life and my personal life so messily intertwined. I want doors - glorious doors! - that I can close when I just need privacy to be in my head or work on a craft or get lost in a good book. I need a little less hustling-and-bustling and a little more stopping-to-smell-the-roses, both literally and figuratively. I've always been intimately connected to home, which is why I work in the field that I do. But that connection also means that when I want to quiet my head, I need to quiet my surroundings too. And a city is not where you go for a simpler, quieter life.
If I told 24-year-old Melissa that she would one day leave this city, this life, that she loves so dearly, she wouldn't believe it. Sometimes, 30-year-old Melissa can't even believe it. It was never in the plans. But plans change. Lives change. People change. Homes change. I only hope that the next people to own my little slice of Jersey City love it as much as I do and that it can serve as the backdrop for many more happy memories to come.
As for me, new memories will be made in our next home. There will be walls to paint, and frames to hang, and flowers to plant, and a new community to love and grow into. I've been describing this move as bittersweet, and maybe by writing down the bitter, I can now focus solely on the sweet. And maybe that's just the way it is with loving and leaving the many places we call home throughout life: their part is played, their job is done, and it's on to the next chapter that will also be great - just different from the one before. Jersey City will always feel like home and I will take a piece of it with me wherever I go. Moving out doesn't mean moving on, but simply making room for what's next. And sometimes, truly loving a city means knowing when to leave it.