New York City. They say it’s the city that never sleeps, that it’s where you go to live out your “American Dream” or to find yourself. The city gives you more than you give it. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for whether it’s places or people. There’s something here for everyone.
But where does that leave me?
I looked out to the buildings surrounding me. Their flickering lights keeping the night sky lit while below, the constant noise of honking cars and chattering people on the streets rose up to my ears. The shoddy balcony keeping me above everything was a little less stable than I’d been comfortable with. For my last few nights in New York, I wanted to take the chance to look at everything one last time.
From the second I laid my eyes on my dinky little apartment, I knew my place in the city. I was just another busy bee running around trying to make a name for herself. I’d gotten lost in the crowd without gaining anything. The tiring “rat race” that took over people’s lives had taken over mine as well.
“Meow,” Stewart called to me, rubbing his head against my leg. I smiled down at him and pet him on the head, sighing softly.
“You know I’d take you with me if I could. Things are going to be different, but that’s not always a bad thing. Mom and dad will take good care of you.” I grinned a little but quickly realized what I’d said. So many thoughts had clouded my mind, that I’d forgotten to tell my folks about anything that’d happened.
Without wanting to waste another moment, I rushed back into my front room and searched for my phone. The cool, crisp air from outside blew into the apartment, making the entire place feel drafty. It was a nice change from how it usually was since the air system was somewhat broken on a regular basis. When I found my phone, I found that I was hesitant to dial my mother’s number.
The thirteen missed calls would’ve sent me into an episode on a regular day, but this was far from something “regular.” Instead of having to come up with a plan to impress the boss with my mother or hear a pep talk from my father, I’d be able to tell them everything they wanted to hear. But then… Why am I so anxious? I wondered indefinitely, the phone falling from my hands onto the couch cushion.
There’s no getting around it. I ran over the scenario a few times in my head. I’d be quick and assertive. I’d tell them everything I needed to without succumbing to their provoking questions and lackluster answers. For once in my life, it seemed like I had some sort of power. The feeling almost overwhelmed me, so I took a deep breath to calm myself.
I dialed the number without thinking about it, and in seconds someone on the other end picked up. Bracing myself for their voices, I asked, “Hello?”
“Bianca!” shouted a shrill male voice.
“Thank God! I thought you were hurt! You didn’t answer your phone all day. Where’ve you been?” said a stern female voice.
“Sorry. I’ve been kind of busy all day…”
“Too busy for your family?” asked Dad.
“You have better gotten that raise, young lady.”
“Wait a second. Did you ask for one?”
Withholding a groan, I replied, “Mom, Dad… This is going to sound kind of crazy, but I’m going to be going away for a while.”
They immediately clamored over each other with questions. I could already feel the stress building inside of me again. The last thing I wanted was for the feelings to come back to me. I curled my hand into a fist, it tightly bound and shaking.
The other end slowly went silent.
“I got a big case—finally. It’s the biggest case I’ve gotten so far. I can’t tell you all the details, but I’m going to be heading to Brazil soon and…” I’m really going…
“Yeah, my client is there right now on vacation. I can’t disclose his name, but he’s kind of high profile. If things work out, then I’ll be up for a position at the firm for sure.”
As my parents started praising me, I felt myself slip away from the moment mentally. I should’ve been overjoyed. It was something I’d looked forward to for years. Undoubtedly, they’d be criticizing me again soon, but for just a few moments I didn’t have to worry about it anymore, I could bask in knowing I’d impressed them or even made them proud of me. Even if it didn’t last, it was worth it.
The realization was the hardest thing to come to terms with. Excitement mixed with anxiety was a potent mix I hadn’t quite gotten used to yet. My cat hopped up on the couch and curled up beside me as if sensing what I was going through. Slowly, I began to stroke Stewart along his back, and he purred gently, helping me calm down.
I fazed back into the conversation as a content smile played on my face. It was time to break away from everything I’d ever known, and it was better for me than anything else. “I’m going to need you to take care of Stewart for me while I’m away,” I told them calmly, interrupting whatever they were saying.
“I’ll be gone for around a month, so I’ll give you everything you need to take care of him. Just try not to feed him too much, all right, Mom?” I spent a few minutes sitting with Stewart after ending the call with my parents. After a few more strokes along the tabby’s back, I got up and headed back outside to the balcony.
The lights seemed to draw me into a trance as I looked at it all. I took in a deep breath, nearly gagging on the rancid air as I filled my lungs. With the exhale, I said my final words to the city, “Goodbye, New York.”