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By Stef Skinner

If you know me, then you know 2013 wasn’t my year. After a brutal New York winter, I was hopeful for 2014 — a new year, a new me.  Growing up in Chicago, I was used to subzero temperatures, icy winds, lots of snow, and the promise of new beginnings with the advent of a new year. Let me go on record and say that this time, the opposite occurred.

I listened to “A Long December” by the Counting Crows on repeat, because that’s how I felt. Where was spring to usher in this new me? Honestly I had hoped for something better…but better never happened.  Until this polar vortex of depression — both personally and climatically — I had never been one to think that SAD existed. Then one morning I woke up to walk my pup, Sadie, and it was snowing…yet again. I’d had enough, so I booked a weeklong getaway to LA.

Like a number of die-hard New Yorkers, I had a dirty little secret: A love affair with LA. It’s a quiet, unassuming, ill-defined feeling that sneaks up on you, so when you fall, you fall hard. It leaves you trying to figure out how to tell your lover, New York, that you’ve fallen for another city. Although I have great friends, confidants, and business acquaintances there, I was seduced because LA offered something New York was no longer giving me: Sunshine, love, and peace of mind. When you think about it though, how much peace of mind can a City that never sleeps actually give you?

After returning from LA, I was happy to be back home with my pup, but I still felt a westward pull…a yearning. Was I cheating? Was LA my new love? Yes and yes. So, I booked another trip and went to Coachella. I was in love, but maybe I was just in love with the sun and warmth that New York was no longer giving me.

When I came back home from my second rendezvous with LA, New York recaptured my heart. On my cab ride back to my City, my apartment, and my life, I fell back in love while looking at the skyline. I fell back in love with my trials, tribulations, and the knowledge that the City streets still kept my secrets safe. New York, no matter how much it beats you, tests you, and makes you think you don’t belong, will always lure you back. New York lets you leave and explore, then reminds why you fell in love in the first place. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but after spending eight years of my life here, I know it’s home.

I was back from LA, and the time had come for New York to embrace me again. It was time for me to let New York back in my heart, because in life, the heart wants what the heart wants. New York, this winter wasn’t your fault, and thank you for taking me back.

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