Next month marks five years of New York living. Damn, that went by fast! Rewind a bit for those new to Funky Brown Chick. In 2005, I was a happy Chicago resident. In my late 20s, I had a healthy retirement plan, fat savings account, stable job, great friends and a beautiful 2-bedroom apartment in trendy Wicker Park. To be honest, I kind of took that whole “financial stability” stuff for granted because I’d had it for a while at that point. I was comfortable. Nevertheless, in April 2005, I moved to Manhattan. (Psst! I explain why in Every Child Is An Artist and on the About Me page.)
I can’t say the transition to New York living was super easy or that the past 59 – 60 months have always been great. One of my lowest points in Manhattan occurred Winter / Spring 2006, shortly after I arrived. With family 700 miles away in Illinois, I felt lonely. New to the city, I had quite a few acquaintances but only a tiny smattering of true “friends.” Also, having recently parted with the new job, I was started living off credit cards. I maxed out and my savings shriveled to zero. With hardly any funds coming in, I was terrified I’d be forced to return to the Midwest out of destitution. I didn’t leave because, in part, I had faith things would work out–though I wasn’t even sure how.
Fast forward approximately two years from 2006 to a random late night in May 2008. Riding home in a yellow taxi cab, I’d just spent an evening out with good friends. The cabbie’s radio was tuned to NPR, and I heard my voice. It was a repeat broadcast from earlier in the morning — when a woman I highly respect, Farai Chideya, interviewed me about African American women & relationships. I also made other appearances and, tomorrow, I’m slated to briefly appear on CNN. I’ll forward details as soon as I get them in case you’d like to tune in.
This isn’t some Pollyanna-Everything-Is-Perfect-Now story … Life isn’t always easy now, and I’m not guaranteed it will be in the future. In the meantime, I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in New York. I don’t believe my career would’ve turned out the same way had I never come here and/or if I abandoned it after arrival. Life’s choices are rarely clear cut. In 2006, had I fled to Illinois — even for, like, 6-12 months to save up money — I might’ve been better positioned to make a fresh, more stable start in Manhattan. Then again, maybe I would’ve stayed in comfy Chicago & never come back to NYC at all. It’s hard to know what the right decision is at any given moment — if there is such a thing as the “right” decision. For me, for right now, I’m glad I’m sticking around.
Last week, I took this shot as I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. Tourist spots. New restaurants. Dive bars. Museums. Festivals. The Opera. Daily, I try to live as if I won’t be in the Empire State the following year. That way, when/if I ever leave, I won’t feel like I missed out anything. I could list a bunch of unexpected difficulties, hidden jewels discovered, lessons learned, most surprising accomplishments, and biggest failures from the past five years. However, instead of telling you what I think you should know about experiences thus far, I thought it’d be more interesting to let you ask whatever you’d like to know. So, today, I created a Formspring.me account. Visit it to post ANY personal questions about: starting Funky Brown Chick, living in New York, finding relationships in Manhattan, freelance writing, whatever. The site allows you to post your questions anonymously if you’d like. Go ahead. Ask me anything.