You Can Take the Girl Out of the City, But You Can’t Take the City Out of the Girl

Winter 2016 on the Upper West Side

When I came back to Michigan, there were many things I wasn’t prepared for.

Winter in November was one of them.

Although I spent the past five years on the East Coast, Northern Michigan is a whole new ballgame.  Despite living in town, the heavy snow and the ice makes is nearly impossible to even walk down the street- this morning, I fell twice in my own neighborhood.

Ouch.

As I waited for the bus to get to work, a man called out to me, “you know, the bus isn’t coming up the hill today!”  I looked over at him, as snow fell off the fur on the hood of my new Michael Kors coat and into my eyes.  “Oh?” I replied, “Where does it pick up?”

“At the bottom of the hill!”

I stared at him as I wiped the snow from my face.  Well, I suppose I can make it to the bottom of the hill.

Begrudgingly, I turned around and started walking.  My clothes were already getting wet from the heavy snow, but that didn’t stop me.  I’d walk all the way to work if I had to!  A mile and a half is nothing when you’re used to walking over 10 miles each day in the city.

As I continued to walk, my feet slipped on the snow-packed pavement.  Catching my fall, my leg started to cramp.  I kept going.  Then, as I hit another icy patch, my coffee mug flew out of my hand, my phone detached from my headphones, and I fell flat on my back.  I paused for a moment.

I can’t do this shit.

All sorts of things began running through my mind at this moment.  Should I keep going?  Should I dry my phone off and see if there is an Uber nearby?  Or do I just go home, call my boss, and tell her what happened?

I decided to go with option #3.

I may be a winter baby who loves bundling up, wearing cute boots, gloves, and hats, but when my nearly 35-year-old body is in pain, the best option is to stay inside.

Maybe I should mention that I haven’t driven a car in almost six years- and I am not about to start now.  Can you even imagine the damage I could do to myself or others if I were to drive on this ice?  It wouldn’t be pretty- not to mention bad for my anxiety.

You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl- even if it means she’ll attempt to walk a mile and a half in the snow and risk falling on her butt.

A Girl Finding Her Identity

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When I was young- probably 9 or so- my cousin called me selfish.  Yet to explore any sort of self discovery or identity, I was shocked.

This stuck with me for years, and later I began to show many behaviors that were selfish.  I continually told myself I was misunderstood, different, and unloved.  I began to doubt myself and who I was as a person.

Where did I fit in this world?

I faked sick on family holidays and refused to believe I belonged.  I detached from the people who loved me the most, unaware how important family and my roots were.  I was antisocial, confused, and misunderstood.  How could anyone understand me if I couldn’t even understand myself?

On a 9th grade trip to the Birch Run outlets with my mom, I remember picking out a sleek dark purple jacket at Ralph Lauren.  I felt like a star.

Upon returning to Traverse City, I pranced around downtown, running errands with my mom wearing my black Express pants, envisioning myself in a place like Chicago or even New York City.  I dreamed of being somewhere different- somewhere no one knew my name.

Somewhere along the way I started to identify as the “black sheep.”

I didn’t know who I was at age 15, but I was certain I didn’t belong in Michigan.

As I went on to college, making new friends and seeking the approval of fraternity boys (some of which I’m still friends with today), I was lost in a sea of vodka and $1 beer. I did whatever I could to find love, but most of all, acceptance.

My drinking began to get out of control, and so did my self respect.  After college, I moved in with an older boyfriend who I later got engaged to.  I thought this relationship would save me from the all-nighters and my bad behavior- which it did, for about a year.  Then, I gave back my Princess cut diamond and took off to San Francisco.

I did the cities- 7 in all.  I worked in fashion.  I considered law school.  I did the startup thing.  I had no idea what I wanted, so I kept running from myself- only to find myself right back where I came from 12 years later.

As an adult, I’m aware I’m still a little selfish- and now, it’s okay.  This kind of selfishness is self-care, which at the core isn’t selfish at all.

The difference today is that I know how to set boundaries, but also to welcome the love that surrounds me.  My identity was never lost- I needed to mistakes, try things out, and move around to truly learn who I am as a person- and that being myself was all I ever needed all along.

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