I fell in love with New York the wrong way.
I had been here before, on vacations and adventures, and never felt that stomach-flipping, head-over-heels love that so many people find in the skyscrapers and bridges of this over-populated island. When I ventured through the city, I felt nothing.
I was raised under the wide-open skies of the Texas plains, and, though I’m a city-girl at heart and have no problem on the subway, I just never “felt” New York. I loved London and Madrid. I fell in love with cobbled streets and different voices, but New York always felt like a lesser version of cities I loved. It was a dirtier London, a hotter San Francisco and a newer Rome. New York has never been a place I’ve dreamed of.
But then again, neither was Reader’s Digest.
There is a love that everyone feels or that everyone tells you that you're supposed to feel about the city that you dream of living in, and the place you dream of working in. That love is built out of a Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in the rain kind of passion. It’s supposed to be immediate and overwhelming and unstoppable. But that kind of love is created by Hollywood.
I did not grow up dreaming of living in New York, and I did not grow up dreaming of working at Reader’s Digest. I was wrong on both fronts.
I came to love New York for the summer breeze, the constant buzzing and the endless possibilities. I came to love Reader’s Digest for the people who welcomed me with open arms and the overwhelming devotion to quality. My time as an intern in this city has been better than I could have hoped. I have listened to brainstorming sessions that created great ideas. I’ve gotten stuck on projects, and had to ask questions. I have watched the sausage get made.
I still don’t feel much when I roam around my neighborhood in the East Village. There are no stomach turns or big smiles. I’m rarely hit by emotion in the hustle, and I don’t know that I ever will be. But I'm comfortable in my love with New York and Reader’s Digest, and it’s love all the same.
Like Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, our love is messy. I’m the one that’s uncertain. I came into this summer confused and hoping for clarity. I’m defiant and stubborn and downright difficult. I’m leaving this wonderful summer confused. I’m still not certain that I’m meant to work in magazines, and I’m not sure that I ever will be.
What I do know is that I’m not ready to leave this tiny, overpopulated island that sometimes smells like trash and is always bustling. I’m not ready to leave my place at the bottom of the masthead of Reader’s Digest.
I know that when I left Austin in May, I was leaving home, and now—only 10 weeks later—this big city feels like home, too. When I leave New York and this industry on Saturday, I know it’s not forever.
I may have fallen in love the wrong way, but I did fall in love.
Written by Kelsey McKinney, The University of Texas at Austin, Reader's Digest
Edited by Colleen Connolly, DePaul University, Smithsonian