One Year in New York City
The highs are higher and the lows are lower. Zach and I (affectionately) repeated that phrase our first month in New York. Everything was shiny and new. Aaaaand 10 times harder.
I'll never forget our first rainy day grocery run when I forgot my reusable tote bags, so I got a couple of Trader Joe's paper bags. As soon as we stepped outside of the store, we were greeted with a thunderstorm. Well, it turns out that TJ's paper bags are not the most rain resistant. The bottom of our bags started to tear at the bottom as they got soaked. Cue us struggling to hug all of our groceries to keep them from tumbling into the street. With no car trunk to throw everything into, just picture us drenched on the subway, cracking up at how ridiculous we felt. City: 1. Us: 0.
I can't even tell you how many times we looked at each other and said "Can you believe we live here now?" during those first few months. Every new street we explored felt like a "pinch me" moment. It was all surreal, especially because we only found out we were moving here two weeks before we actually hopped in a car and drove across the country.
Many of you reading this probably know moving to New York was my big dream for over a decade. And I've tried to make it happen a few times before, but for one reason or another, I always got a "No" from the Lord. So I'd finally put it to rest.
However, somewhere midway through 2020, Zach and I found ourselves enjoying evenings out on our balcony talking about our hopes and dreams for the future - something that kept us hopeful and distracted from the isolation. One thing I kept telling him was, "please don't let me stop going after my dreams. I reallyyyyy don't want to look back when we're older and wish I'd actually gone after them." He told me the same, and we promised to keep each other dreaming big.
A tiny spark grew in my heart that reminded me of my big New York dream. But it really didn't seem like the next logical step for us. Married for almost four years then, it seemed like the normal thing to do would be to "settle down" further - not totally uproot our lives, downsize, and move across the country.
Well, one night, I had an interesting dream. I dreamt that I was on the New York City subway, riding back from leading a Bible study with a group of college girls. I'd just left their college campus. It was simple, but it felt incredibly real.
I have never been one to really hyper-spiritualize dreams to be honest. But this one felt so different. I woke up feeling like that was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I needed to go. I told Zach that morning, "I can't shake this feeling that we're supposed to go to New York."
Right around that time, Zach was in graduate school in Dallas and starting his job hunt for post-grad. We prayed and he applied to jobs around the country. We asked God specifically for New York, but we knew he just needed a job - wherever. Once we got down to one month until graduation, we were starting to panic because he still hadn't received a job offer. But right in those final weeks, God blew us away. Zach's goal was to work for a non-profit doing business analytics and God opened a door for him to do exactly that....in New York City!!!
And here we are! One whole year later.
I've cried over: the most magical city snowfalls, blankets of white covering Central Park. Perfectly pink cherry blossoms in the spring. Powerful Broadway solos. Magnificent sunsets on the ferry ride. Twinkling lights from epic city views. A Perfect Weather Day spent on the patio of a French cafe. Hundreds of warm-toned leaves flying at me in the fall. Finding community and new friends that feel like family. A church that is diverse and feels like a little glimpse of heaven.
And remember that dream I had about the college bible study? Well, God opened a door for that too. On Thursdays, I meet with a group of college girls to teach them about Jesus and learn from the Bible together.
I remember the first time I left one of their college campuses,' I smiled to myself on the train. This was the dream!!! I could write an entire book on how God has blown my mind with these girls. He's doing miracles over here, and we get to bear witness to it.
Now, being here isn't always rainbows and roses. Being here means being far from family and sweet life-long friends. Being here means getting brutally awakened to the reality of New York City rent prices (i.e. the past 3 months of nightmare-ish apartment hunting). Being here is hard and imperfect. And I don't think we'll be here forever, but I'm thankful for this first year. I'm thankful I get to live out this dream. I'm thankful the Lord's given us a place to feel like we belong.
And I simply can't wait to see what Year Two will bring.
I hope you always remember to Dream Big. Give God all your wildest ideas. Trust Him with them. Know that He knows what's good for you. He knows if and when to give it to you. And it may not come in the way you expect. It may not come right away. But it will be worth it.