The last time I was in New York, I knew for sure I would never move back. In the eight years since I moved away, it’s the first time I’ve felt that way.
When I moved to Chicago four years ago, I missed New York so much. I missed my circle of friends. I missed the socializing. I missed the food.
I would flee Chicago and all the loneliness I felt here to go to the east coast. Or to the west coast to be with my Brooklyn roommate. On visits east, I would go back to our old neighborhood and have long brunches with my girlfriends. On visits west, I would reminisce with my sister about how good it had all been.
New York would intoxicate me all over again, make me feel like a giddy, party-going 22-year-old. Flying or driving towards the cityscape of New York was like seeing an old boyfriend with his fresh cut and wide smile. Walking the streets of New York was like getting a whiff of that old boyfriend’s cologne. My sister used to talk often about this idea.
You know that song Jill Scott had years ago? “Cross My Mind”?
Yeah, like that.
And if you think that talking about a city like you’d talk about a lover sounds crazy, maybe you haven’t yet encountered your Soulmate City.
Like an unforgettable love affair and a connection that is unexplainable, a soulmate city just feels right. You get it and it gets you.
I had that with New York once. So, did my sister. We would talk about the lack of connection with other places we moved.
And the trouble is, I don’t feel the same way for the city I’m in.
Don’t get me wrong, Chicago has been incredibly important in my life. This city has given me a great partner, wonderful friends, and the space and confidence to finally be a full-time freelance writer. I just don’t think it’s my Soulmate City.
Chicago is the person you date who is smart and kind, but doesn’t make your stomach flip.
In relationships, I realized at one point that stomach flips were overrated. And then I realized that no stomach flip wasn’t the answer either.
If I think practically, Chicago is a more relaxed and less expensive city than New York with a thriving arts and culture scene (although that feels a bit in jeopardy). When my New York girlfriends came to visit me, they couldn’t believe I had an apartment with a full size dining room and a living room large enough for an office for under $1000 a month in rent.
But if I think passionately, one day there might be a city that replaces this one.
According to Buzzfeed, I’m meant to live in Madrid. I did adore Spain when I went last year.
Maybe ultimately it had nothing to do with the place as it does the place you are in your life, true perhaps for any long term commitment.
Chicago may not be it for me, but a return to New York isn’t either. Maybe Madrid could prove to be my next Soulmate City. Or maybe there’s somewhere out west. Or somewhere that’s never even occurred to me.
New York once gave me just what I needed and for those memories, it will always make my stomach flip.
Carrie Bradshaw knows what I mean…