We moved our Big Girl to the Big Apple. A brief visit to New York City has left me with plenty to write about, but at the top of my mind right now is our precious elder daughter, a fully grown young woman who is off to make her way in the big, big city.
It feels very much like we drove her to the edge of the precipice, looked down a steep cliff into the water below, and pushed her off with an admonishment to sink or swim. Of course that’s not the case. This was a planned journey and one she’s had her eye on for several months. But even our preparedness doesn’t block the emotional toll of packing our young adult daughter off to what amounts to a foreign land, even though it’s just a car day’s drive away.
When she came home from doing her Master’s Degree in London, we did not know that she would be home for nearly a year. The first few months were a little rocky as she struggled to get her footing and as we all worked to get used to living together again. But that was short-lived. Eventually she found some work and we worked out the kinks. We always knew it was a temporary arrangement and that she would move on.
About three months ago she made the announcement that she would be moving to New York City at the end of the summer. She didn’t have a job there, yet, but she was making a plan. She worked two jobs all summer long to save up a little nest egg. She will be telecommuting to her part-time marketing job from home, while also doing an internship for a marketing firm in lower Manhattan that specializes in the music industry.
It is an understatement to say that there is a tremendous culture shift between our quiet, rural region in Western New York and the gritty, noisy, teeming streets of New York City. Perhaps that’s the hardest part for me. When she went to London we simply put her on a plane and cried our goodbyes. This time, we packed quite a bit of her stuff, including some small pieces of furniture, into our car and drove almost 400 miles to help her get settled and actually see where she will be living. Sometimes, unseen is easier to take.
New York can very easily feel overwhelming. Surrounded by people, you can feel lost in the sea of humanity. She was feeling a little of that as she showed us around on our first full day. By the end of the second day, she was already talking about connecting with some people she knows and making some plans.
We left, with some tears to go along with the hugs, of course, knowing that the choices are now hers alone. We have confidence that she will choose to swim, not sink. But here are the words of encouragement and advice that I could not bring myself to say out loud at departure:
My darling daughter: SWIM! But before you start, take just a moment to enjoy the plummet off that cliff. Let the exhilaration engulf you and breathe in the fullness of the moment and witness the plethora of opportunity ahead. When you hit the water, take just a second to feel the refreshment in hitting something brand new. Then stretch every muscle, and swim. Enjoy the work, the view, the grind that builds character and emotion and brain power. Remember to come up for air once in a while and give yourself a chance to simply breathe. Open your eyes, your heart, your mind, and your arms. Take in all of the atmosphere and knowledge you can. Build all the friendships you can. Good things do not come to those who wait; they come to those who work hard to get them.
I would love to tell you that I found a flowery quote to go along with this, but really what keeps running through my head right now are the words to the classic rock tune by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” So much of life is stretched out ahead of you. Go ahead and grab it!
And while you are swimming, remember that no one is more worried about you and confident in you all at the same time; no one believes in you more; and no one loves you more than your parents. Create the self you want to be. Congratulations on taking the plunge. Now SWIM!