You read that correctly. I’m moving. Not apartments, or cities. STATES. I’m moving to the West Coast. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, and if you know me in real life, you may have already heard the news. However, I thought what better way to officially break the news to everyone than an emotional post with pretty images and memories.
I was born and raised in New Jersey, and I’m probably as East Coast as it gets. Taylor ham, diner eggs, $20 regular cash, why are you only doing 80 in a 65? JERSEY. There is absolutely no denying I bleed shitty ocean water and bodega sandwiches. I grew up knowing everyone within a 5-mile radius. Living just a 5-10 minute ride from every cousin ever, and being related to every human within those five miles. Whether by blood or by that one time they ate at my grandma’s house. “That’s your tia!” as my mom points to a woman I’ve never met before and will probably never remember when I see her in 20 years.
We grew up close, in a land full of culture and life. I remember hair salon trips on weekends that took HOURS. You could hear either salsa, merengue, or bachata blaring through someone’s window as their mom cleans the entire house like social services is coming to inspect it all before noon on a Saturday. Dominoes being played in backyards and meeting your friends at the basketball court to do nothing but eat chips that weren’t 75% bagged air, and drink quarter juices.
My favorite thing about where I live is how easy you can travel to another country by just jumping on a train or a bus. I’m just a 20-minute ride away from the Dominican Republic in the Heights. Just a 10-minute walk from some of the most amazing Indian food I have ever had. Just an 8.5-minute drive (6 if I’m starving) from the BEST TACO PLACE IN MY CITY along with a strip of incredible Mexican restaurants and shops. Just a train ride away from Colombia, or Queens. Greece is there too, and so many others. I love the East Coast. I love the street performers, the food, the noise. I grew up around all of that, and that’s the thing. You grow up. You live and life changes.
My partner is from Phoenix. I visited for the first time this past December when we went to visit friends and family for the holiday. As much as I was set on hating it, I loved it. I loved the change of pace. The sunshine. OH, MY GOD, THERE IS SO MUCH SUNSHINE. The grass (where you could find some), and the feeling of easy living. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still think the roads are trash because why on earth do you need so much space on the roads? I think it’s weird that everyone smiles at you, and what the hell is stucco? Also, google a ‘haboob,’ If I die, it’ll be from not knowing what the hell to do during one.
When we got back from our holiday we sat and discussed a west coast move. I was of course thrilled. Something new, different, exciting! Nevertheless, there was a lot to consider. 75% of my clientele is from the North East. I’m an award-winning street style photographer and no offense Phoenix, but there isn’t much style in your streets. I’d be giving up my niche and starting from the ground up. I’d be leaving my family. My parents, my siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandma who I adore. My nanny family!!! I know the first thing everyone has asked me is “WHAT ABOUT SEEF!?” My friends who I’ve known for over 15 years are also here. ::SIGH:: we thought about all of these things and discussed them for a really long time.
One of the things that really solidified the move for me was leaving to Phoenix for 17 days. I came back to clients replacing me and finding other means to make their projects happen. I realized that one of the largest factors that were holding me back was non-existent because I was easily replaceable. Now don’t feel bad. I mean, I felt terrible at first because it’s a shitty feeling, but I pushed myself to see the bigger picture. Just like I built this incredible empire here in NY / NJ, I can build one in the West Coast. My magic does not stop working outside of a 30-mile radius. My magic stops working when fear becomes more powerful.
So Chase (@nofacechase_) asked me if I’d be down and I was like HELL YES! I was scared. I’m still scared as shit, but I’m so excited and ready for what this new chapter in my life brings. I’m fortunate enough to be going somewhere where he’s already built a life and has a home. Because could you imagine me going somewhere where I don’t know anyone at all? That cannot be good for my mental health. I’m brave, but I ain’t crazy. We’ve got tons of people who love us and support us. We’ve also got guest bedrooms so you can all come visit! And I’ve got magic. I’ve got magic to make and lots of growing to do.
So yes, the closest thing I’ll have to a bodega is a circle k gas station store. And sure, there is NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION even close to the MTA, but whatever. I’ll still make Chase listen to Hector Lavoe on Saturdays. My mom will mail me plátanos and Seef will come visit. I’m looking forward to everything life has for us this fall and September is already so close!
Cheers to new adventures, and here’s to finding a noise maker that has sirens, buses, 4 AM car music and the occasional firework that makes you wonder whether or not that sound will be on the news tomorrow. Now let’s go raid all of the bodegas for pan de agua before I leave.