Being back in New York, after having lived and worked in Chicago for the past five years, has been much more emotional and confusing than I thought. I feel complicated about being here, yet I know people dream and kill to be in New York City. I’m here because my family is here and I wanted to be closer. But, I’ve also been using this time as a refresh. To recharge after all that’s happened in Chicago, take stock of what I have done and want to do, and keep tight to my vision. And, to gain perspective on the girl I was before I moved away from NYC and the woman I want to be moving forward.
The whole past month I have been looking for physical and emotional space to decompress all of this- it’s been a lot. I’ve been handling things like a champ, but I also get really anxious about whether I made the right choice and how I’m going to build my life here. It also has been bewildering trying to figure out my support networks here, my places and people to go to for imbibing and talking through teaching and singing. Finding a space for all my stuff, too, also made it hard to feel adjusted.
I have been back in New York City for over a month now. In that period of time I:
- served as an Illinois Bernie Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia
- got my certification as a New York State Grades 1-6 Students with Disabilities teacher
- went through 8 interviews, and accepted a job offer as a fifth-grade special education ICT co-teacher
- moved back home with my parents and purged a lifetime of belongings, finding a space for the lucky possessions I decided to keep #KonMari
- continually caught up with old friends
- walked almost every day around NYC
- joined a choir
- started my first days of school with students.
Again, a lot.
In terms of teaching, I wanted to find a place where I could prioritize building my relationship with my parents and support in a way that’s healthy for all of us, while also teaching kids in an integrated environment AND kids who look like me. I wanted to find a space where I could keep learning. My school is pretty nice- there is definitely more funding than what I had in Chicago Public Schools, which makes a difference. And I get to teach Latino and Chinese students, meaning I can practice my Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin. Phew! Lots of veteran teachers, too, and the community here feels tight.
Living with the parents has certainly been an adjustment. Dad still wants me to get home at a certain time, and I’m not about it. Dating? I’m basically a monk until I move out- how does a person date when they live with their parents? And the questions- so many questions! But I will say that being home has been somewhat nice- I have my own space here, and I’m kept in relative quiet while I try to get reading or writing or work done in my room. We share materials so I don’t have to buy more stuff. I’m more content with having less. Thinking forward, I don’t have a set timeline on moving out- financially, I could move out really whenever I wanted, but I have things to accomplish at home, and it’s so nice co-sharing everything. I also am in between about saving money to buy a place- I don’t know if I ever want to buy anything, but I know saving money works best if I live at home.
I have a lot of rebuilding in terms of support networks, too. I know a lot of people in NYC by virtue of growing up here, but friends who you’ve seen sporadically over five years is very different from friends who you were used to seeing at least once a month, if not more. I’m going to have to work proactively on rebuilding those relationships while seeking out plenty of new relationships.
Overall my head has been swirling since I got back. I keep referencing Chicago in my understanding of teaching and politicking, and maybe that’s okay- it’s my experience, after all. It will take time to get into the groove and the acronyms and the culture here in NYC public schools. For the most part, all of my stuff has a space- and now I have a teaching space- now I need to feel like I fit within it all.