Last week I found myself back in New York, for the first time since leaving abruptly in March 2020.
Since then, I have spent many hours shedding my New York identity, cutting loose the threads that had kept me tied there for over a decade, and experiencing the range of emotions associated with a sudden, unplanned and unwanted change.
This is why I knew that going back, even though only for one week, would be telling.
I was scared about going back.
Scared for my heart.
Scared that I might fall back in love with a place that I had fallen for so many times.
Scared that I may question my move to Portugal.
Scared that seeds of doubt would be planted about the choices I have been making.
Like most things that I feel scared of, it turns out that I did not need to be scared of my heart falling for an old love.
From the moment the taxi crossed the bridge into the city, I wanted to leave the city. The feeling was immediate and I felt it with all of my body.
Coming from a very comfortable few months of getting settled in sunny Portugal, the contrast to New York felt jarring. It was cold, dark, windy, dirty, loud, smelly and not easy on the eyes. A sensory overload in the most unpleasant way that I could ask for.
I was not in tune and did not feel connected with the energy of New York. And that surprised me.
To make sense of these feelings, I built a narrative in my mind about how the pandemic must have really changed New York. I feel different, so I point the finger at the place, person or thing outside of me. It is ‘their’ fault.
Then I realized after a week of running around the city, meeting many new and some familiar people and eating at places I long frequented, New York has not changed as much as I might want to believe it has.
What has changed is me.
What prompted me to reflect about my reaction to visiting with an old love was the fact that for over a decade, and an important decade in my life, I felt very much in tune with and connected energetically to New York.
Last week, when I saw people walking hurriedly down the street and the expressions of stress and seriousness on every single face, I could see myself everywhere. I used to look, feel and act exactly in this way. Everywhere I turned and looked was a mirror, showing me how I once was.
What I was feeling was not about being disconnected from New York. It was about being disconnected from a previous version of myself.
Landmarks are a beautiful reminder about how I am evolving, developing and growing. They provide me with a reference point, not to judge how they have changed, but to become aware of how I have changed.
Over the years, I have become more open to reality changing me. It takes a letting go of what I once believed, who I once was and where I once lived, to be with my own reality of what I now believe, who I now am and where I now am.
It is easy for me to intellectually be in love with what I once was in love with. It was good to me, for which I will always be grateful.
It is a bit harder though for me to listen to my heart, and to hear what it has to tell me. It does like to surprise me from time to time.