I arrived in New York City in the late afternoon of the first of July, 2017. I left my family, my sisters, my best friends. I left people, plans and a road to nowhere.
My bag was full of expectations – those that every long journey brings -, of the conviction that one way or another I will figure it all out and of a huge smile on my face that made me feel at home every step I took, despite the nostalgia, tears and fear. I often faced the fact that I was not able to control everything that was happening to me. Some things I kept together, others I had to let them go.
One hundred days have passed from that first of July and I keep writing about them on a diary that helps me track the days.
Day 1 – Landed at JFK. The one and only thing I was able to think about was my bags. After a 10 hours flight from Rome and all the adrenaline in my body, I could just hope that all my dresses were with me. Maybe all my priorities are way out of whack, but this is me and I am so Italian in this. Got my bags back, I met my aunt from Delaware who came to the airport to take me to my Brooklyn house. Long story short: it was a crumbling house, totally different from the one they showed me in the videos. I left the apartment and went to live with my cousin in New Jersey. Actually, lots of people do this: living in New Jersey and working in New York City, I was just one of them. Bottom line of my first day in New York is that I haven’t seen the city at all, but from Verrazano-Narrows Bridge I saw the first of many sunsets that made me feel at home, always.
Day 25 – In New York that day was raining and even inside me. I had been having problems on all sides throughout the week and the words of encouragement that I repeated to myself were losing their meaning. I had begun to wonder what I was going to do on the other side of the ocean and far from everyone. Maybe I hadn’t thought about it enough before leaving.
I started walking home and at a certain point I found my safe place, my shelter, on the Manhattan Bridge. I called my friends and I broke down crying, but I found them exactly where I thought they would be, on the other side of the phone to encourage me.
Day 71 – There are stories that reach you despite the thousands of kilometers away, the departures, the silence. I thought of unconditional love, of my truest friendships, of my deepest roots. I thought about the people I left behind and those I never really let in, but that I will always remember. I thought about the fact that maybe all this endless attempt to protect myself has always hurt me more.
Day 84 – This city is the place I’ve always wanted to be in. I feel at home. Because being here is like being at home: it’s not always easy, you don’t always meet people you can sew on yourself, but you always know where to go to feel safe. I don’t even really miss my friends, because they are with me at every step. They see everything I look at and they know what I think. It’s a beautiful, powerful and such an intense feeling. I think that everywhere I will feel this sense of fullness, because I know that I never really walk alone.
Day 92 – I moved again yesterday. I live with two girls in a house with exposed bricks, I’ve always wanted one. In my room the window is on the ceiling and it inspires the way the light enters and illuminates the day. Leonard Cohen sang in Anthem: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” – It’s with a smile and this sentence in my head that I woke up this morning.