Cross country to the high desert after 30 years in the Big Apple
I physically made the move to New Mexico with little difficulty once I decided where I was going (movers definitely helped!), but I was thrown after I arrived because of the emotional impact.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss New York City or the East Coast a bit. I know I’ll go back at some point – and will enjoy it – but I’m satiated and did what I was meant to do while living there.
I think I was angry that I stayed stuck there for as long as I did. It’s a great place for a certain type of person and/or someone at a certain level of comfort (meaning, you have money), but it’s not a healthy place long term for anyone who’s sensitive to energy and over-stimulation like an HSP (highly sensitive person) or empath.
I’ve been thinking I stayed longer than I should have, but maybe I stayed exactly as long as I needed – I did have some major revelations – so perhaps my frustration had to build to a boiling point before I could muster the energy to break away. New York City can be an addiction.
What surprised me was how fearful I was after I arrived in New Mexico – I had to force myself to go out and do things. I didn’t want to wander around downtown. I didn’t want to go into a store (okay, it was covid lockdown…) But I didn’t even go out on my porch after dark for months – I definitely didn’t drive anywhere or even walk around my apartment complex after dark. And I love the night sky – I still haven’t gotten to a dark sky area to look at the stars even though I love the cosmos.
I didn’t know about dark skies and the dark sky movement until I moved to New Mexico. The movement was started many, many years ago by astronomers who became concerned about light pollution and the effect it has on not just stargazing but also on wildlife and even humans. Life evolved to exist with both day and night, dark and light.
In 1988, the International Dark Sky Association was founded to officially protect the night skies. By meeting certain criteria, an area can be officially accredited by the association. New Mexico boasts six officially designated night sky areas, but there are also many more places one can go in the state to see the Milky Way and stars in all their glory. It’s still high on my To Do list – along with other space-related things like the Spaceport, Roswell, the Very Large Array, and so much more!
So my fear wasn’t because of the dark – I love the night skies. And it wasn’t simply moving – I packed two suitcases in my 20s and moved to London for a few years, not really knowing anyone except a couple penpals (this was pre-Internet) and a couple other people I sort-of knew. And I had no trouble adjusting – new was wonderful and an adventure back then.
Once I returned to the States and finished my thesis, I decided I’d work in the music industry while I wrote books, so within several months, I had two roommates and an apartment in NYC. At age 29, I rented a Uhaul and drove myself up the Jersey Turnpike to the Upper East Side. (I only lasted in that area a year because I found out in a matter of weeks that I was a downtown girl – I didn’t like going above 14th Street….). I had no problem adjusting to the city either – I remember my first week in NYC wishing I’d moved there ten years earlier. I even got a dream job in the music industry within a week of landing there.
Thirty years later when I moved to Santa Fe, I felt uprooted for the first time. It was the height of covid lockdown when I arrived, so the whole pandemic probably influenced me in unknown ways, and I felt like I was in some type of shock. I’ve done a lot of googling and research to try to find studies on people moving later in life and how it can affect one mentally and emotionally, but only found information about people moving into senior housing. I don’t care if I’m almost 60 – I do not consider myself a senior!! I’m reinventing myself and feel like I’m just coming into my own.
I think living in Manhattan for 30 years and in the same apartment for 25 – even though small, washer-less, and too noisy – rooted me there energetically.
I was able to leave after two incidents. First, I was speaking with a friend who’d left NYC a few years before me – to quote her, she said, “just get the fuck out!” She went on to explain that the most important thing was to go somewhere, anywhere – I could always move back to the city if I hated where I ended up, or I could move to another place. Getting out – anywhere – was key. I realized she was right. I realized I deserved more than the apartment that I’d lived in for so long. And I deserved the life that was waiting for me.
About the same time, I booked a reading with an astrocartographer. If you don’t know what astrocartography is, it’s also known as relocation astrology and locational astrology. Simply put, it’s an astrological reading of your planets over a map. It’s good for understanding the energy in locations you might move to or visit.
I found out I would never be successful in New York; I would always be challenged there and never reach my potential. My success, spiritual, all-around-hotspot for me was a line running from San Diego (no) through Tucson (too hot) up to Sedona (explained why not in last post) and through Albuquerque/Santa Fe. The astrocartographer even asked if I wanted this kind of success at my age – and I naturally replied ‘YES!’ Whether you believe in astrology/astrocartography or not, it all rang true for me, and it really helped with leaving and figuring out a place to go.
Once I decided to move, it was only a matter of time. But why did I have such an uprooted, lost reaction when I arrived? I mean, I got all teary-eyed and emotional when my car wheels crossed into New Mexico – I knew even before I arrived at my apartment that I had made one of the best, if not the best, decisions of my life. I road trip and travel alone all the time; I did most things on my own in NYC – it wasn’t being alone that was the problem.
Oh, dear reader, thank you! As I write this, it’s clicked. I’m releasing 30 or so years of trauma and stress! I’m not afraid to be here – I’m letting go of all the stress I had to keep inside me for so long, and my release reactions are anger, fear, grief, etc.
I lived through 9/11 while living downtown; the worst part of the covid pandemic; Sandy; blackouts; a man with a gun chasing another down Broadway in the 90s; nasty, nasty bosses; a downtown NYC emergency room after a car accident in 1990; sociopaths; and angry, defensive, in-your-face New Yorkers who alone can give a person PTSD. I never felt good enough, pretty enough, accepted enough, successful enough – I never felt like I fit in there.
Besides the bigger city-wide traumas, I had to deal with the every-day noise, aggression, and in-your-face everything. The super and landlord that fought every repair and never wanted to fix a thing. The heat I couldn’t control – it would get to over 100 degrees in my apartment during the winter! The view from my window through bars to the backs of buildings. The restaurant beneath me that installed an exhaust fan that ran 24 hours a day and was so noisy, it would literally shake my bed – and me in it. It took two visits from the city, a fine, and me yelling at my landlord for them to fix it enough that I could at least get some sleep.
I’m not fearful of being here! – I’m peeling off literally decades of stress and tension. And it’s going to take time. The anger I feel isn’t toward my former life in New York, and it’s not fear of being here – it’s me releasing all this energetic gunk that’s built up and clogged me for 30 years.
For anyone who’s thinking about or has made a big move on your own – if you feel angry, sad, overwhelmed, shocked – it’s probably not you! It could be your body releasing all your stored-up trauma from the place or situation you left. I’ve decided I’m going to take this opportunity to sit with it, feel it, and just let it go.
It’s time to breathe. And dance with the clouds.