Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Uproot my life and travel? What was I thinking? Anyone who has made that decision has a story. Like many New Yorkers, mine involves Tulum.
Six months into the pandemic, my best friend had died, both a long and short romantic entanglement had failed and I had been "existing" in my box of an apartment in NYC like a caged zombie.
Living alone wasn't the 'you made it' Big Apple achievement it was before the pandemic. The highlights of my day were drinking Soylent in the mornings and walking to the water to catch the sunset in the evenings (this evening part actually has not changed. Says the girl with over 10,000 sunset photos).
It was August of 2020. I'd ordered from Seamless (delivery service in NYC) 234 times that year and winter was coming. I needed a break. Some connection. And probably some sunshine.
A friend told me he was going to be in Tulum for a few weeks. So I booked a flight. Never you mind my skin hadn't seen the sun in a decade.
“I needed a break. Some connection. And probably some sunshine.”
Ok yes, I was one of the New Yorkers that went to Tulum. But I would like to say, at least I was one of the early ones. Bagatelle had not opened yet, you could get a cab to the beach for $100 pesos, and it was still shocking to run into other New Yorkers.
These were not necessarily the people I wanted to see -- but it's still shocking when you are in the middle of the jungle in Mexico and you see a "friend" you'd had a falling out with over something frivolous 5 years prior.
The plan was to be in Tulum one week, aka, the American approach to travel: "I'll use 5 vacation days and travel for a whole entire week!"
While in Mexico, however, I discovered I was...happy. Which was fascinating because I had not realized I was unhappy. That is what they say about New York City, though: to finally decide to leave, you have to have already left.
As luck would have it, I was, at that moment, in negotiations with my landlord for the upcoming year. They refused to come down in rent, even with 30% of the city having left or lost their jobs.
If I am honest, it is with good reason; I had a great deal in the best city neighborhood. But landlords are inherently dicks and being a dick to me while I'm sitting on a beach in the Yucatan simply tipped me over. Fuck your lease. I'll stay another week in Mexico, move out in one more week, and start traveling full time. Watch me not paint the living room white either.
I like to think I make excellent decisions under pressure.
Please do not take the "fuck your lease" statement above to mean leaving the city was easy.
While I am originally from Alabama, NYC had been my home for almost 10 years. I had more in common with it than anywhere else in the world. I am not close to my family, so I had built one there. I'd failed, succeeded, lived on a couch, made friends, lost friends, wore all black, and carved my name into a few bars.
Every neighborhood held a memory. Walking down the sidewalks turned into walking down memory lane. I grabbed drinks and dinner with as many of my favorites as I could and realized, if you are curious, that one of the acceptable reasons to cry on the subway is knowing you are knowingly riding it for the last time.
It was hard emotionally. But moving into the unknown always is. That's how we know it is right.
Homeless Digital Nomad
That simple -- within one month, I'd made my decision, packed up and changed my life forever. When people ask me where I am from, I now respond: "during which month?"