After landing in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday night, February 15, I had so many emotions. I was excited and ready but at the same time terrified and sad. I was excited about my new life but scared of the future and sad about leaving my friends. I was also overwhelmed by all of my luggage! I traveled so much in the last ten years that I was an expert packer. Regardless of the length of my past trips, I always brought a maximum of one small suitcase and an extra bag. This time it was different. I felt like someone going on their very first trip who had no idea how to pack. I had four suitcases, two of them big enough to carry a body. On top of that, I had a hiking backpack and another bag. I was so busy in Los Angeles packing and moving that I hadn’t thought through how I was going to transport this luggage from New Jersey to Queens! I knew that I was going to take a taxi, but how was I going to get it outside of the airport?
Luckily luggage carts were next to the baggage claim, so while each of my bags arrived, I got to work stacking them on the dolly. Once I finished, I very carefully pushed the dolly to the taxi area. The Newark Airport has a “taxi line,” where passengers waiting for a taxi stand in a line and wait for turn after they tell an employee how many people are in their party and how much luggage that they have. I didn’t have to tell the employee how much luggage I had! It was obvious. When I spoke to him, I was so embarrassed that I had so many bags that I said, “one person, six bags, and I’m moving here!”
I got into a taxi with a nice and talkative driver. Time went by fast while we talked, and before I knew it, I was in front of my home for the next two months. I was taken aback by the look of the neighborhood. My new neighborhood was different than where I wanted to live, but because it was next door to my dream neighborhood, I thought it would be nicer. However, from the cab, it looked very run down and lower middle class. Yet when I stepped out of the cab and, with the help of the driver, moved my luggage to the front of the building, I changed my mind.
The neighborhood did look run down, but it had a charming New York quality to it. Buildings were close to each other and each of them had their own personality. From my street, I saw a hair salon, accountant, and restaurant, all within a block of me. Slowly but surely I started to feel at home. This is the city I was waiting for and it didn’t disappoint. The cab drove off and I waited five minutes for my Airbnb host who was running late. He arrived at the front door, introduced himself, and immediately began helping me with my luggage. His name was Steve and he was a very nice man who had been hosting Airbnbs for many years. His family owned several apartments in my building and they had their own operation. Steve gave me a tour of the apartment and told me every detail imaginable. He also had the information typed out on documents that were neatly stacked on a desk. I could tell that he knew what he was doing and when he left, I had so much information about the place that I could give my own tour!
That night I was so exhausted from my trip but still wanted to celebrate my move. After settling into the apartment, I chose a local Peruvian restaurant. Walking through the neighborhood to the restaurant, I knew that I would be happy here for the next two months! My feelings were set in stone when I sat down to eat and the waitress greeted me. After spending a while deciding on what I wanted, I ordered and had an amazing first meal as a New York resident. I also ordered a gin and tonic to celebrate. Upon leaving, I introduced myself to the owner and my waitress and told them I moved there that day. They were so friendly and welcomed me to the neighborhood. I felt so loved and welcome. I took a different route back home and took in my new neighborhood. I got ready for bed and lay down on my pillow, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I made the right decision. In the next few weeks, my certainty would be tested.