There is no denying that September is a time of change. This is especially true for those of us who are young enough to have had the majority of our lives structured by the academic year. I spent only one year of my life on a non-academic calendar, and it passed strangely, in fits and starts, instead of the promise of a slow, bright summer. The lease on my Brooklyn apartment renewed on September 1st. Renewed. This is the first time September hasn’t meant a move in seven years.
Here are six reasons I’m not moving:
1. I want to be the teacher who stayed at her inner-city school for more than one year. Because I’m stubborn, yes. And because I really do love the kids. And because I’ve seen those teacher-retention charts and I don’t want to be a statistic. And to quote Meredith Grey, “No one loves a quitter.”
2. A new bar just opened down the street. By down the street I mean the on-foot travel time is about thirteen seconds. It was Coming Soon for weeks, and before that, pedestrians were peeking into sawdust-covered windows trying to figure out if the skeletons of booths would soon be home to coffee drinkers or beer drinkers. I was relieved to find it employed bartenders rather than baristas. Finally, our very own McClaren’s! It is becoming increasingly unnecessary for me to ever leave my neighborhood because of all the trendy bars and restaurants that are Coming Soon. Why would I leave when “The Bagel Pub” two blocks away is Coming Soon? Is it a bakery? Is it a pub? I must stay and find out. The only thing I do know is that the menu will probably look something like this.
3. Despite all predictions, my roommates’ cat can still fit through the cat door despite his rapid growth over the past year. We also installed the cat door without permission, and our landlord either hasn’t noticed or hasn’t said anything, which are both good reasons to stay where we are.
4. Our apartment is not far from JFK airport, and therefore it makes a great crash-pad for my good friend Ali, who works as a flight attendant for Jet Blue. I’m never not pleasantly surprised when she has a quick turnover at JFK and asks to sleep on our couch, or in my bed, for a couple of hours. Ali is the kind of person who is brutally honest but unfailingly kind. “Your fan is disgusting,” she will say when entering my otherwise immaculate bedroom, “I’m cleaning it as soon as I wake up.” She cleaned it and did the dishes, too.
5. I think staying put can be a good discipline. Maybe because I’m kind of into monks lately. I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s journals. I also often think about the following quote in a book by Rod Dreher, “St. Benedict considered the kind of monks who moved from place to place all the time to be the worst of all. They refused the discipline of place and community, and because of that, they could never know humility. Without humility they could never be happy.”
6. My friend Alex and I have an escape plan, which is important, because no one wants to stay in New York forever. Part of deciding to stay in a city like New York means having an eventual escape plan. One day, Alex and I will run away to Maine, where our sighs of relief will be long and deep from leaving a sleepless, urban life. We’ll eat lobster rolls and get drunk on the visibility of the milky-way and forget the starless city. And maybe one day we will hike the White Mountains, climbing so high that we can almost see the brownstones of Brooklyn. And then we will start to remember our affordable walk-ups and the trendy bars below them, our cats and the couches that hosted our friends. On the way down, we’ll wonder what it means that we lived there and that we left there and if we should have stayed or should have left. And we’ll start to tell our stories.
Note: Staying put and being content where you are is a luxury not available to many. The migrant crisis in Europe is worsening. Click here to help.
Caroline Higgins (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.