261 days ago, I moved to New York City.
You’ve heard it before, but just one more time… I left my husband, my dog, my friends, my career, my Zona Fresca, and pretty much my entire life in Florida, to go to pastry school. It was ambitious, brave, exciting, but truth be told: it was SCARY. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
The scariness started before I even arrived. For months, I woke up panting in the middle of the night, asking what would soon be the most repetitive question I’d ever ask: “Am I gonna be okay?” For weeks, I’d call and text my New York friends, begging them put me on their radars and in their calendars, in hopes I’d find a way to fit in, continuously asking, “Am I gonna be okay?” For days, I moped around the offices of my co-workers, with mopey eyes and a panicky frown. Through their smiles and support, all I could manage was, “Am I gonna be okay?”
261 days ago, it was February 29th – the day I moved to New York. I probably asked myself 261 times that day if I was going to be ‘okay’. I’d never lived in the city, I’d never left my dog for more than a week, I’d never lived alone; hell, I don’t even think I even went so far as to the bathroom alone. I just prayed my ‘leap-day of faith’ would work out, and somehow, through all the scary stuff behind and ahead, I would be ‘okay’.
On day 1 of 261, I wrote a letter to New York, because I’m dorky like that. Here’s what it said:
I’m a woman of my word, and truth be told, I didn’t waste a single one of 261 days, or a single one of 783 meals, during our time together.
The past 261 days have been the most challenging, most exhilarating days of my life. You could say I’ve been ‘okay.’
Of course I baked my face off at ICC. I went to every extra demo, volunteered for every extra curricular opportunity, graduated with honors, an outstanding service award, and a Chef Claudia award (I think she made that one up but that kind of makes it even better). I ate literally everything – too many bagels, there’s even proof my cheeks. I baked with Dominique Ansel, Ron-Ben Israel and Jacques Torres. I ordered so much seamless food, that I’m actually classically conditioned to salivate when I hear the buzzer in my apartment. I made a permanent dent in my favorite bench at Madison Square park. I unbuttoned my jeans from eating too much at New York Food & Wine Festival, fan girl freaked out at every Food Network star, and actually escorted Ted Allen to the bathroom. I saw Hamilton, The Waitress, Matilda, She Loves Me and Oh Hello. I walked in circles around the Union Square Green Market four times a week because it’s my favorite place in the world. I got the last burger on a Saturday night at Emily. I went to a wedding at the Plaza. I listened to a pop-up Madonna concert at Washington Square park. I went to a game at Yankee stadium. I had monthly mini of the months from Baked by Melissa. I ate $.99 pizza at 3pm, and diner fries at 3am. I ran into Alec Baldwin on the street. I mastered the subway (okay, somewhat mastered) and pretended like I hate Times Square (you secretly love the lights, and just hate the crowds, right?). I played tourist at every museum and New Yorker at every bodega. I favorited whatcoloristheempirestatebuildingtonight.com, and told it goodnight before I went to bed. I walked 1,863.74 miles – seriously. So yeah, it’s been ‘okay’.
I’ve been dreading day 261, the day I’d have to leave New York, when I realized I was going to be so much more than just ‘okay’ here. Everything’s changed and everything’s stayed the same; as I’ve been preparing for goodbyes and another transition, I’m still here asking myself (and everyone else) the same, tiresome question: “Am I going to be okay?”
And just like that, here it is – day 261; and for the first time in 261 days, I don’t feel ‘okay’.
…Of course, I will be ‘okay’ – I’m going home to Benny, and my wiener dog, and a kitchen the size of my current bedroom. Besides, lows are in the 40s – it’s time to go.