It’s time for me to go. I’ve settled on relocating to Flagstaff, Arizona at the end of the month. This probably isn’t a surprise to most people who read this blog and know me. I’ve been professing a desire to give life a shot outside of NYC’s confines for years now. With a lot of patience and hard work, things have finally come together for me to depart on good terms and with a stable foundation to grow a life on. It’s a far cry from where I was one year ago, balancing on a knife’s edge, but pretty much everything has been going my way in 2019.
I visited Flagstaff in June of last year by chance during my wanderings and immediately recognized it as a special place. This city, at 7,000 feet elevation in the shadows of even higher mountains, is lauded for its outdoors culture. Its got a web of contradictions that draw me to it: bountiful forests in a land assumed to be only desert, one of the coldest cities where most expect scorching heat, no daylight savings time and a liberal arts / hippie influenced culture in a historically red state. I will be ecstatic to have my vote count in the 2020 election.
It still feels a little bit crazy that in just two weeks I’m giving up most of what I know here in NYC to give it a shot out there, where I have no contacts. I am okay with this because I’m sure in what my routines and hobbies are, confident I can continue them in an acceptable way and able to leverage them to regrow a social circle. I’m talking about things like climbing, juggling and tabletop gaming. Even the way I work, oft encamped with a laptop at a coffee shop or the library, has made it easy to meet people. A lot of patterns in my life tend to flow out as idealistic but in the end are realized as practical. My tech work that anchors my move I have in part because I hiked the Appalachian Trail!
In the meanwhile, I have my own agenda which I can achieve solo. That’s really been my modus operandi for adult living, “Be focused on your own activities of worth, rally friends to your cause through your earnestness on the way to achieving your goals”. I’m declaring the goal of this period of my life to be centered around exploring the American Southwest. I feel such a strong pull to this that I’m ready to overcome my anxiety of driving. It’s been nearly nine years since I last had a car and I sure haven’t missed it. We’ll see how doing a two week cross country road trip in a rental does as a system shock to me. Fortunately, I’m not really expecting to be dependent on the car to have a social and professional life in Flagstaff. That will still be by the bicycle, and it’s likely I’ll opt to range a bit on two wheels as well.
I will deeply miss New York. In all of my trips, I’ve always come back with a tinge of homesickness. I do expect to identify as a New Yorker for life. In my last few years here, I just can’t shake this feeling that I haven’t really lived a life that takes advantage of NYC to its fullest. I forced this on myself, living fully in sublets instead of building a space that was mine again after the AT, and avoiding all kinds of commitments (volunteering, relationships, etc). I feel like I’ve failed New York a bit in that way, as I’ve had one eye out the door for so long now. Even my desire for seeing new bands and photographing them has waned, which defined my first four years here. In the end, this decision to go is putting to rest that stark cycle of off/on adventuring for some time in favor of a more sustainable practice.
An intent in leaving New York is that it may serve as a sort of burning of the fleet for me, to make an allegory of the historical conquistador, Cortez. I have a lot of things I want to achieve that I’ve felt I’ve stagnated on in 2019, foremost my photography. I’m very eager for new opportunities with landscapes and nature. My writing, both in terms of personal and creative, I’d like to develop, and I am looking to challenge myself with some new flavors of code. So basically, I am saying the same thing I do at the end of a lot of my other blog posts, that I want to do more with this website and myself as a brand. I’ve been totally lost on it this year, so I’ve simply decided that this uprooting will be my remedy for my chronic procrastination and lack of focus.
My choosing to close this chapter really comes down to that I thrive off self-challenge; it’s become a core part of my identity. My adulthood has really been defined by being a change actor and risk taking. I may have my missteps, but it’s how I’m most happy figuring out my one shot as a human. I’ve been comfortable here, but I finally have all the pieces of the puzzle together to try going somewhere very different for a while and seeing how I fit in. When it comes to trying out Flagstaff and my greater goal of using it as my base of operations for desert wandering, it’s something I feel super optimistic about. Should it eventually turn out that I’ve taken NYC for granted or need to return, well that door’s never going to be closed for good either, but I would likely regret forever not giving the 2019 version of myself the opportunity to go out there and try it.