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  • Writer's pictureMary

On being a New Yorker, coming home, & what comes next. Thoughts at the end of a year (and a decade)

My love for travel and my love for my hometown have deepened in equal measure over the course of recent years. I saw some beautiful places, loved them even. I tasted wonderful and new flavors, practiced the tiniest bit of others' languages, walked unknown streets, observed different flora and different skies, drank in the sights and the night air, studied maps and looked for signs, and always, always, was ready to come home at the end of a journey.

The more of the world I see, the more I am certain that New York is the center of my universe. There is no place like home, and I love coming back to it. But truly, there is no place like this place: New York, with its hard extremes, its intimidating beauty, its food that is the best, most authentically diverse in the world. I am grateful for the cosmic fortune that made me a New Yorker. I feel pride when, on our travels, the people we encounter ask where we're from. Sometimes I swear I can see their eyes sparkle; I feel the same way.

This year, Kev and I briefly considered looking upstate and in Long Island for our next home. Ultimately, what kept us here is the desire to give to our children that which formed us: the experience of being a city kid. Which leads me to some recent news.

A couple of weeks ago, we closed on a house. We're staying in Queens, very close to where we live now, and we're thrilled about that. We'll have a backyard, albeit small, for our dogs to run around in. We'll have an extra bedroom, a kitchen that actually fits two moving bodies at once, and a little patio out front for weekend morning coffee. We also have an entire ground floor that we can make our own.

We're planning some renovations, and don't expect to move in until sometime in March, but we've started to think a lot about the changes we want to make, and have already met with contractors and an architect. This holiday season is the last we'll spend in our current place, a home that I love so very much. Five years of life are contained in this one bedroom apartment, including engagement and a wedding, two dogs entering our lives, the start of Mammoth & minnow, as well as new jobs, new travels, and lots of batches of ice cream (though Kev would say not enough). In our new home, I look forward to having a garden, to fostering dogs, to allowing Kev to walk with his alarmingly and incongruously thunderous footsteps without worrying about anyone below us. I look forward to carving out a new corner and claiming it as my studio. This year, Mammoth & minnow continued to grow, which makes me hungry to nurture it with even more time, more energy, more thought, to see it and my skills grow more and more and more. I am eager for 2020 and what it will bring for my art and my business.

2019 has also brought its share of darkness. I somehow lost all motivation and inspiration at my day job. There, I cope with the myriad, the constant, the eroding effects of poor management. For much of the year, I've been harboring an internal struggle about leaving the job, uncertainty over whether I could commit to another, fear of losing stability and insurance, and a real and growing desire to take the leap into M&m full time.

The country is divided. The earth is literally burning.

I lost my grandmother, my last tether to the history of her generation, the person from whom I'd known unconditional love for the longest period of time, even from across the whole world and a day ahead. We have plans to travel to China next year, and even though I'm so excited to go, I feel a pit of grief and dread inside me. I'm not sure I'll ever be ready for the wound it will open in me when I see her apartment again, not least because I don't know if I will ever forgive myself for not having seen her in her final years. I love her so much and I didn't say it to her enough, not even close. I will miss and mourn her forever.

2020 looks like all years do - long until out of nowhere it's December and there wasn't time to do all the things I meant to. I'm eager to begin to try.

Life is moving at a clip now. Plans are made months in advance, the calendar fills. It can feel mundane and exhausting, but as I reflect on the year from some distance I can see clearly the richness that colors my days. The freedom I still enjoy despite the demands of the everyday. A partnership in which I feel deeply and wholly accepted, understood, safe, supported, and loved. The fortune of being in a position to make some difference sometimes. The completeness of moments, including a New Year's Eve spent staying in, with four bodies, two tall humans and two tiny canines, snuggled and stacked together on the couch.

Happy New Year all. Onward to 2020.

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