Farewell to the City



This is pretty unrelated to fitness, but I wanted to post it anyway. Two years ago, before my NYC life REALLY took hold, I decided I was done. I had been here 6ish years, I had waited tables, I had pounded the pavement as an actor, I had rented tiny rooms and had exhausted all my options in the city, so I thought. So I spent that New Years Eve by myself, on purpose. I went for a run on December 31st in Astoria Park at dusk, breathing in the icy winter air, and thinking about what I wanted for the new year. And it was a resounding: "NEAREST EXIT SIGN". I went back to my apartment, made a delicious steak dinner for one, poured a glass of red, and as the ball dropped just outside my window, I wrote this goodbye letter to New York. I cried the whole time I wrote it.

Little did I know, it wasn't actually yet my time. A few weeks later, I pulled back from my escape plan and realized that moving at that moment wasn't really a positive change for me, it was more of a "running away from things that were difficult in my life" type change. It was at that moment, that even though I WANTED so badly to pack everything up and leave in the middle of the night, that I HAD to stay. I knew I needed to finish my NYC chapter on a high note.

What happened between my goodbye letter to NYC and my life now as I know it is astounding when I think about it. Because of my choice to stay, to stare directly into the heart of the city, my story is now VERY different than the goodbye letter below reads. My farewell now would read more like this:

The city has taught me everything I know about being strong, independent, brave, vibrant, fleshed out, passionate, energized, patient, streetwise, resourceful, even scrappy at times and always full hearted. My choice to stay another two years lead me to a dream career that I never knew I wanted, which I was able to cultivate only by staying. I have gained endless world-renowned knowledge and expertise about my job as a trainer and what's even more, endless enlightenment on how to be a better human, more giving, more loving, more versatile. I also have gained a FAMILY. The entire Ninja Army + Team at Mark Fisher Fitness has adopted me a family of 900+ who teach me every single day how to celebrate being alive.

My choice to stay challenged me to run my very first NYC Marathon, which I completed on an impossibly windy and cold day, with all of my friends and loved ones cheering me on, including Michael J. Fox. It was one of the best moments of my life, running through all 5 boroughs of NYC.

My choice to stay also immediately lead me to the love of my life, who had been a friend for 9 years, who I am overwhelmed with excitement to call my husband in the near future. Growing with him, building a home with him here in NYC has been an exceptional highlight of my city life and because of him, my life is forever changed for the better. No, the BEST.

I have learned to love the city in a new light. I have found success in a solid career path. I also have accurately identified what I want for my future: to be an entrepreneur, a wife, a mother. I am heartbroken over leaving such an incredible network of vibrant, bright, incredible people in my life, but I know that they will always be with me no matter where Preston and I may go. But for now, it is time to make a highly anticipated return back HOME, to my wonderful loving family and start a life with the man of my dreams, knowing NYC will always be a piece of me. Frank said it best: if you can make it there...

xo + whole lotta YAS,

E Stace


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December 31st, 2013

You Were Here

Moving to New York City never happens by accident. I’d gamble that it’s almost always a conscious choice and probably more often than not, requires a cache of pent-up gall and sheer determination, mixed with a bit of sweaty palms and a paralyzing fear that you don’t have enough money in your pocket. Side-note: you will never have enough money in your pocket. Take the leap anyway, and build the plane on the way down. You’ll move here, probably with the best intentions: ready to pound the pavement, work your way to the top, determined to “make it” in whatever industry you deem as yours. Good for you if you actually stick to this plan. You are the rare few. Many will get entangled with other life choices and wander down a myriad of paths they never anticipated. Both good and bad, and in between. Some will leave after only six months, defeated. Some will stay five years, marry a man in finance and move to Westchester. Everyone's path is different and the choices are yours. Always remember that.

Once you arrive on the scene, enthusiasm oozing from your 20-something-year old pores, you’ll have to quickly get used to the back-breaking mile-trek home loaded with groceries from Key Foods and the sound of the creaking wooden floors of your outrageously priced pre-war three-floor walk-up and the obnoxiously loud neighbors yelling through the paper-thin walls in a language you might not understand. You won't mind. All of the things that might eventually, years later, feel like nearly unlivable conditions are simply endearing idiosyncrasies in the beginning, charming little reminders that you are here, in the center of the world. And you’re so grateful. All you can see is the white canvas that lay before you.

You’ll lie awake at night, listening to the city soundtrack outside your window. The very cacophony that at first keeps you wide-eyed at night will eventually be the exact melody that lulls you into a deep slumber once you’re acclimated. Some nights, you’ll stare at the ceiling letting your curious mind wander back to all of the past tenants who’ve inhabited these century-old walls. The breadth and depth of such history is almost dizzying. So instead, you blink ahead, speculating about the next tenant who will live here after you, but you quickly shake away the silly notion. Next tenant? Ha! There won’t be a next tenant! Who would ever want to leave this incredible town?! You vow then and there that you are going to stay.

For-ev-er.

The promise of your future and the endless opportunity that awaits you out in the sparkling abyss of that concrete jungle is the weirdly comforting thought that pulls you into a solid sleep.

Except for when it doesn’t. A few months, or perhaps years will go by – once the shine of the city has worn off a bit – and you’ll be jolted awake in the middle of the night, heart pounding inexplicably. You fumble in the dark for the lights, the city hauntingly quiet outside your window. And as you’re pouring yourself a glass of water from your impossibly miniature faucet in your impossibly miniature kitchen, a small voice somewhere inside of you will wonder what the hell you’re actually doing here. It is the first time you have heard this voice since moving here and it is at this moment that you’ll feel truly alone for the very first time. To achieve loneliness in New York City – the city that never sleeps, the ultimate nucleus that the rest of the world seems to enviously revolve around, an island populated by nearly 8.4 million people – only adds to the despair of this moment. This is the puzzling juxtaposition of New York City: to feel completely isolated amidst a sea of people. You won’t be able to pinpoint it at that moment sitting at your kitchen table (if you’re lucky enough to have the space for such a luxury), but in a few years you’ll realize that this loneliness derives from the egocentric circles that New Yorkers are feverishly running in order to survive the frantic pace of the city. And you will come to learn it’s a rhythm that can’t be broken, lest it breaks you.

With wisdom comes perspective but also sometimes at the cost of jadedness, and you think back to the bright-eyed girl who not too long ago was restless with enthusiasm for this city. You vow to get a little piece of her back, starting tomorrow, as you turn off the lights and try for sleep, round two.