Rik’s Life: Starting Anew in the Big Apple

This is me at the Afro Punk Fest this weekend. Completely irrelevant to this post, but thought I'd share anyway.

This is me at the Afro Punk Fest this weekend. Completely irrelevant to this post, but thought I’d share anyway.

Today (well, yesterday EST time, but today my regular, ‘ol CST) marked week one of my big move to the Big Apple. Last week, I landed at a little shy of 11am at LaGuardia Airport, picked up my two over-the-weight-limit suitcases packed with 23 years of my life, and proceeded to Manhattan, where my new life has already started to take off. Although I’m here for a 2-year graduate program at Parsons, this marks not only the pursuit of another degree, but also the starting of a new chapter in a book I’ve been reading for far too long.

I’m not one to divulge my dealings with life publicly, but, being this a “fresh start,” and all,  I’ve decided to share.

This journey, unknowingly and unwillingly, started a year ago. Last year, I spent the summer attempting to move to Chicago–a place I had been dying to get to since my freshmen year of college. I figured this was my time. I had graduated from college, had a little money saved and was in a relationship that brought it all together. So, for three months after graduation, I worked two jobs in my mundane (albeit very convenient and cheap) college town, and tirelessly (and foolishly) searched for apartments more than I did jobs. My dad had agreed, as a graduation gift, to pay for my first two month’s rent if I found a job shortly after moving. Needless to say, by this time last year (almost Labor Day), I had exhausted my savings on bus tickets, going back and forth from STL to CHI, and food, had met my quota for sleeping on friends’ couches, and found myself heartbroken when my almost 2-year relationship ended (on a beach, how movie-like). Feeling, (1) pressure from my parents to “just get a job,” (2) jealousy as I watched my other friends settle comfortably into their new careers and (3) erasing all aspects of love and relationships from my mind, I returned back home to St. Louis, moved in with my dad, sisters and stepmom, and accepted the first job I was offered, which was working in nonprofits.

I entered a year of self-discovery, but not the kind that comes with countless doors of opportunity opening. I was still extremely poor, I was living with my parent and I was no where near the career I had spent the last four years of undergrad so carefully drafting. Needless to say, I was sad, miserable, alone and stressed. However, I didn’t blame it on anyone. I spent a couple of month’s wallowing in my self-inflicted sadness (no tears, just a lot of time to myself in my room), and then decided that it was high time I got my shit together. I knew that I wanted to study the issue of racial diversity in the fashion industry based on a 20-page research paper I wrote my senior year in undergrad, so I made a list of graduate schools and started applying. After narrowing my list of 10 schools down to four, I applied and was accepted to two of the best–NYU and Parsons (I chose Parsons).

I quit my job, which I had worked for 7 months, was hired on contract to be an editorial assistant with a local fashion magazine (a position I had been longing after since applying for jobs in Chicago) and spent my last couple of months at home, not bidding farewell, but rather saying thank you for a year of humility, motivation and determination–reasons that I believe I had to return home in order to understand.

In retrospect, I think that if I had landed in Chicago, I wouldn’t be on this journey, this new chapter, but rather still reading the same chapter that I have now completed, comprehended and accepted. Before leaving home, I told myself that above all things, I wanted to leave with peace of mind, which required me to put my big girl pants on and handle unfinished business. I spent time with my Nana, who’s in the midst of Alzheimer’s, and most likely won’t remember me when I return for Christmas. I accepted and made peace with love gained and love lost. I helped my 15-year-old sister who has become the ying to my yang pick out outfits for her first week as a sophomore in high school. I hugged my dad. I kissed my mom. I said goodbye.

Amidst the desperation to get to Chicago, the heartbreak, the disappointment in myself, the long nights of writing graduate essays, the insufficient funds, the lonely nights, the peer pressure, I have finally found peace, and, on top of that, a new home. Hello, New York!


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