Falling Out Of Love With New York

On January 1, New York and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary. Except, unlike previous years, it didn’t feel like much of a celebration. I wasn’t happily toasting to another year of living in New York City – I was wondering how many more years I’d be ringing in here, and what would come next.

It wasn’t always like this. During my first few years living here, I’d regularly bring my camera and tripod with me to work, then set off into the city afterwards to photograph the bridges and skyline at night. On weekends, I’d set out to frolic new neighborhoods or drag my roommate to hipster fashion shows and burlesque birthday parties. And whenever I left the city, the sight of the skyline upon my return always excited me. My enthusiasm for New York seemed to know no bounds.

So in recent years, when I started spending most of my weekends hanging around indoors or confined to my Brooklyn neighborhood, rather than exploring the city, I knew –

I don’t love New York anymore.

I can’t point to anything in particular that may have triggered this sudden change in feelings, or even the moment where I realized we were done – but it happened sometime in 2012, my 5th year of living here. I was fed up with pretty much everything in my life, especially my job, and by the year’s end I had given my notice and booked my flight to Kathmandu. I figured nearly 6 months of traveling in 2013 would give me a much-needed break from New York and hopefully some clarity on The Next Step.

NYC subway

I was waiting on an epiphany that never came.

Upon my return last summer, I didn’t know what to do or where to go – so I did the easiest, safest thing and stayed put in New York. I quickly found a new job in the city and jumped back into a familiar routine: the same commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan via the L Train, the same pseudo-Polish grocery store, the same cluttered apartment with the same messy cats.

Lincoln Center Manhattan

Everything was the same again, so why did I think it would be better this time around?

To my credit, I’ve lined up plenty of new things to distract me from the same old: a job I enjoy, Crossfit, this travel blog, weddings to photograph. All of these things are both invigorating and demoralizing at times – just like New York is. The truth is, they’re not enough to keep me content here. I feel so restless in one of the greatest, most exciting cities in the world. There are people out there who would give up their first born for the opportunity to live in New York, and here I am complaining about the people, the traffic, the weather. It’s not that I’m ungrateful – it’s that New York and I have grown apart. We’re not meant to be together anymore, but we’re still hanging on out of obligation – out of convenience.

View from the Brooklyn Bridge

This fading relationship is holding me back from living my life fully.

Here’s the thing: Since I’ve known for awhile that I don’t want to stay in NYC much longer, I’ve been holding off on doing a lot of things that would greatly enhance my life. I desperately want my own apartment, preferably with an outdoor space – but why waste money and effort on moving and sign a lease when I hope to be leaving the city soon? I haven’t booked many weddings because I don’t know where I’ll be next year and don’t want to commit to being in New York to shoot them. And why even bother seriously dating anyone in NYC knowing the end is nigh? If I do any of these things, I’m setting heavy anchors that I don’t want here; if I DON’T do these things, I’m not truly living my life the way I want to.

Brooklyn street art

It’s clear that I need to leave New York City. It’s less clear what’s next.

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

Where in the World is This?

  • Anne

    I adore this post, and I adore you. Not just because you clearly belong out here in SF (ahem) or because you rock at all things photography + coffee, but because you’re brave enough to be honest with yourself AND with your readers. LOVE.

    • lindsaypunk

      You are just the BEST. Thank you for being so encouraging and supportive! Now the question is… am I brave enough to do something?

  • When I asked you at Bloghouse why you were still staying in NYC if you didn’t love it so much, and clearly wanted to be in California, you said you really liked your job. But after reading this post, it’s clear to me (and I’m sure you) that the time is now. One “pro” like a good job won’t fix the negative feelings. There are plenty of jobs you could fall in love with in SF—plus, aren’t you working for a start-up? There are plenty more where those came out here as well :) Think of all the frolicking you could do out here (in great weather). Plus, you already have Anne out here to show you the ropes, and I’ll be back in a year! Makethemovemakethemovemakethemove. You won’t regret it!!!
    And p.s. I loved this post, which is why my comment is the length of a novel.

    • lindsaypunk

      HAHAHA, your comment is nearly the size of my post! :P But I love it!

      You’re right though – a great job can’t make up for my general discontent here. And this makes even more sense when you consider that I don’t hold my career as the #1 thing in life. So if it’s not the most important thing to me, why sacrifice for it? Doesn’t make sense.

      Location’s the #1 thing, so I know I have to make a move. Now I just need to decide WHAT that move is, and when! :)

  • Britany Robinson

    Well, geez. We are on exactly the same page. And probably the same L train a couple weeks ago. Just found your blog through your comment on mine, and this piece resonates with me SO much. This is exactly where I was a few months ago, and despite all the many tears I recently wrote about, I feel incredibly relieved to have left New York City, and confident that I will discover a place on this road trip that feels much more like home. And you know what the best part is? If we do discover that NYC is, in fact, the greatest place in the world to live — it’s not going anywhere! Go try another city with the confidence that you can always return and fall in love with NYC all over again.

    I’m looking forward to following your blog and seeing where this journey leads you! :) From one BK escapee to an about-to-be… it’s gonna be fun! :)

    • lindsaypunk

      Man, I wish I’d found your blog sooner! We could have commiserated slash hung out in NYC while you were still here! But I’m excited to see where you end up next :)

      And you are very right about NYC always being here. I have to keep reminding myself that nothing is ever permanent. I can make a move and hit the metaphorical ‘undo’ button if it ends up not working out. I’d just like to have an idea or goal in mind for when I DO leave, though – and that’s what I’m currently working on!

  • Mindi @ 2foodtrippers

    Somebody once told me that all New Yorkers both love and hate New York and that it’s time to leave when you start to hate the city more than you love it. That feeling hit me at the eight year mark. Soon after, an opportunity to move to Denver popped up out of the blue. Listen to your gut. New York will always be there when/if you decide to return. As for me, eight years was just enough.

  • lindsaypunk

    Wow, you lasted 8 years? Impressive!

    This is really great advice, thank you. Intuitively I KNOW I should listen to my gut, and I KNOW it’s not necessarily goodbye to NYC forever. Yet still… it’s so hard to actually make the move.

    I think finally admitting to myself and the world that I’m ready to move on was Step 1 – now figuring out what’s next is Step 2! I’ve got some ideas, but the tough part is figuring out which one is best for me.

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  • I understand where you are coming from. New York and I have a love-hate relationship (so much so that I wrote all about it lol). Sometimes I too dislike NY very much and traveling gives me a break in my routine. I know you may not be around much longer and I am a little sad however you should definitely be somewhere that makes you happy. Looking forward to updates!

    • lindsaypunk

      Oh snap, I’m about to track down your post about this! I’m sure I’ll agree :D I feel like most New Yorkers feel similarly, which is comforting.

      For me though, once I stopped being happy to return to NYC after traveling, I realized I had swung to the other side of the love-hate spectrum. That’s how I know my days here are numbered!

      • Gah! Just realized I have it set to private because it is on my lists of posts to update (BH has me updating A LOT of old posts). I will keep you updated though!

        Will be sad to see you go :(

        • lindsaypunk

          Ahh, gotcha! Would definitely love to read it once it’s back up for public viewing!

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