Story time. Just when you thought you'd heard everything...
The last time I called Manhattan home I was in high school. It was 2001, and I was sixteen. I had just finished tenth grade at a teeny-tiny Greenwich Village stronghold—The Little Red Schoolhouse. It was our third year living in The City after having been transplanted there (me, kicking and screaming) from Baltimore—my birthplace, my hometown—and the safe surroundings of the all-girls prep school I love(d). My mom had just finished her Masters in Theology at seminary (she's now a priest). We lived in Chelsea on 20th Street at 9th Avenue in a school-owned building adjacent to her gated early-1800s campus.
During our stay in New York, the seminary was our private little world. At the time, the surrounding neighborhood was not so friendly. Chelsea Market was a brand new idea, and the now infamous art galleries had just started going in along the riverfront. The beautiful High Line was not even a twinkle in the city's eye, and the giant Meatpacking District Apple Store? It was a grungy grocery/butchery called Western Beef that smelled absolutely awful, I might add. The Sex and the City style of civic romance had not yet trickled down to my age group. New York was still a dangerous and wild terrain to be conquered.
As for me, I took the C/E train downtown to school on weekdays and taxis to Times Square to shop at this newfangled fun store called "Sephora" on weekends. I played varsity basketball (we were really bad), and wore a scoliosis back brace, which I carried home in a plastic trash bag on the subway after practice or games. No one ever looked at me funny. I took tennis lessons in place of gym class down near Wall Street, and hit golf balls at the Chelsea Piers driving range with my brother when he came to visit from his boarding school in Virginia. In the evenings after school, I ate meals at the seminary refectory with my non-school friends and fellow NYC transplants—the other future PKs (Preacher's Kids). We were a mean little club, us teen-aged Seminary girls... We had to be. New York was, well... New York.
In the summer of 2001, the crazy 3-year ride was over. We packed up our 2-bedroom apartment and moved back to Baltimore, where I rejoined the same school girls I had known since kindergarden a very different person. As we all know, just weeks later the world changed forever...
Now, I realize this is getting long-winded. This is a story about me and the city I love. It's truly the place that helped me to grow up. It's the intermittent home that forced me to understand other cultures and ideas and personalities because thankfully there was no room to hide from them. Tough love, baby.
As most of you know, I've been living in Connecticut and commuting to the city every day for work. It's been exhausting, draining, and a slew of other negative adjectives. Needless to say, I'm excited for a change. But moving back to Manhattan is not only a matter of convenience. It's kind of a special thing to me. I changed so much in those three years in high school. Every time I visited the city after 2001, it was like being home again. I knew it was only a matter of time until I found my way back.
This week, oddly enough I'm looking forward to a few long nights of packing and last-minute errands because (for the fourth time in this blog's history) I'm moving! This time, the new place will be my home for a longgg while. Hello, New York. I'm back!
See you next week.