Goodbye to the Upper West Side

Photo of me in front of Milk Bar, Upper West Side

I’ve stopped and started this post several times because I wasn’t sure how I could ever put into words what living on the Upper West Side for the better part of 16 years has meant to me. It was my dream as a kid to live in the Sesame Street neighborhood, and then I was fortunate enough to work at Sesame Street while I was here!

This past week I’ve been racing around doing errands, packing, cleaning, taking care of my aging dog, working – of the employment and graduate school varieties. Every time I turned a corner, walked a block, or saw a familiar face, memories flooded into my mind – some were joyful, some were tragic, and many were ordinary moments that felt extraordinary, then and now. 

Here, I fell in love, and had my heart broken here, many times over. My novels were written and published. I started telling my stories, and helping others tell theirs. Jobs came and went, some were amazing opportunities and some I would like to forget. I started two businesses. I adopted my dog. I became a journalist. I was burned out of one apartment (and almost got trapped in the building), and kicked out of another when the building went co-op. I started therapy and put so many ghosts to rest that had haunted me for most of my life. I learned how to be fearless, or rather how to run right towards what scares me and not flinch. I faced health challenges, mental and physical. I rode out the pandemic. I was diagnosed with and treated for cancer—and nearly died from that treatment, twice, in this exact apartment I’m writing this post from right now. This apartment that I will leave tomorrow, never return to, and where I lived, where I really lived. Where I found out what I’m made of, why I’m here, and what my purpose is. Here I found the secret of life, and it’s love. To be ridiculously, foolishly, blindly, joyfully in love with every moment and interaction, and every single chance we get to just be. 

There are so many things I will miss—my friends and neighbors, Central Park, Riverside Park, the dogs, the shops, the good food, the familiarity. My friend, Jennifer, sent me a quote from Navin Amarasuriya of The Contentment Foundation that says, “Home is not a location, but a place where you are missed when you are gone.” For me, the Upper West Side has been all these things, a real home. I will miss it, and it will miss me. We meant something to each other, and we always will.  

This has been a long and winding chapter, and it’s rapidly coming to a close. There are new adventures and new places waiting for me, places that are not yet home but that I hope in time will be. No place will ever be exactly like this place, and for its special place in my heart I’m so grateful. I’m grateful for all it gave me and took from me, for all of it. 

End scene, curtain up, take a long, happy, thankful bow, smile, pause, and then on to the next show, tomorrow. 


Stories in and on walls

Art on one of the walls in my apartment

If you’ve ever been to one of my apartments, you know I paint my walls with art. In preparation for my move, I took down all my art today and packed it. Normally, this day is a sad one for me. Suddenly my home isn’t my home anymore without the art on the walls.

But today was not a sad day for me. Though I will miss my neighbors and my neighborhood, letting go of this apartment is part of turning the page and letting go of a lot of painful memories. The pandemic. Cancer treatment. Nearly dying from cancer treatment. Break-ups. Old jobs. The loss of friends. The loss of family members. Phineas getting sick multiple times. As I took down my art, I let go of all those difficulties, all that sadness and disappointment.

There were plenty of wonderful times in these walls, too. Visits with friends. Unpacking a box full of copies of my first Emerson novel. Selling my second and third Emerson novels to a new publisher. Getting into the biomimicry program at ASU. Getting into the sustainability leadership course at Cambridge. Healing – for me and for Phin. Here, finally, I found peace and I will take it with me.

I’ve lived in this apartment for 6 years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else as an adult. It’s a funny thing to be a renter, to live in a place where so many other lives have played out of people I will never know and never meet. Everything that happened to me here will never be known by the people who will live here less than a month from now. They’ll make their own memories here, and I’ll never know those stories. Only the walls know it all, and they keep every secret.


Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis at Yale University

Really proud to be a finalist for the Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis with The OpEd Project at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. They had 445 applications this year and though I didn’t get one of the 20 fellowship slots, as a finalist I will have some incredible opportunities this coming year to sharpen and hone my climate change storytelling. Please join me in congratulating this year’s fellows.