Random Thoughts

NYC, One Year Later

Well, it’s been a heck of a year.

Last April, my partner and I made the decision to sell our recently-purchased home in the greater Washington D.C. area so that I could attend business school at Columbia University and get my MBA. We’re a year in, just moved into our new apartment in Astoria, Queens, and what a heck of a year it’s been.

This time a year ago, we were driving up to New York City with a money tree and sad cat in our car to a Brooklyn apartment that we hadn’t seen in person. Within the week, I’d go on to attend my first weekend of classes, meet some amazing new people, catch COVID, and sell a house that we had bought just a year and a half before. WHEW.

Business school – and moving to New York City – has led to one of the most intense – yet rewarding – years of my life. I spent several years living in San Francisco, and took classes at both Stanford and UC Berkeley, so I thought that I had a good idea of what I was getting into when I signed up to spend every Saturday for two years at the new Columbia Business School campus in West Harlem / Manhattanville. That was definitely not the case. The last year has been an amazing (and challenging) blur, but I’m coming out the other side with a much broader view of the world, new opportunities for my career, great friends, and finally feeling like I have a good grasp on my mental health.

I’ve moved 18 times in the last 15 years.

With this move to NYC, I’m feeling like I’ve finally found a place I want to stay for a while.

I’m writing this blog post on a Friday evening, surrounded by neon pink boxes and drill bits. We moved into our new basement / garden apartment in Astoria, Queens, on Sunday. I was was supposed to take this week off, to settle in after the move, but in reality, I had meetings every day this week, and I like it that way. It’s hard for me to fully disconnect from what’s happening online, but I’ve been learning the importance of being presence in my physical environment, too.

The concept of liminality has fascinated me since I heard about it in the context of designing spaces for virtual environments. A “liminal” space is one where you feel the intensity of being in-between states:

  • The period of engagement when you aren’t single, but aren’t married
  • The summer between graduating high school and going to college
  • At an airport, when you’ve crossed through security but haven’t yet boarded
  • Being on an airplane itself

I’ve felt a sense of liminality for much of my adult life. I think that there’s something about the way that we consume technology and the internet these days that contributes to that feeling, but the world also seems to be changing more rapidly, too. Is this just what getting older feels like?

I don’t remember where, but I recently heard the phrase: “If you can find stillness in NYC, you can find it anywhere.” I’m looking, New York. I’m looking.