This week marks our fifth year as permanent residents – aliens – legal aliens living in New York City.
New York was never on the cards. It was a big, scary metropolis where all the joggers run into dead bodies in parks, and gangs roam the streets – or at least that’s what all the TV cop shows alluded to.
We first came in 2009. Jess wanted to, Bernie didn’t but traded the chance to go to a festival in California to agree to making the trek to New York. Emerging from our first ever subway ride up into a world of sirens, yellow cabs and high rise buildings it was like walking into a movie set. It was immediately intoxicating and exciting. Yes it was fast and furious, yes people were rude and in a rush but man it was happening. We New Yorked our little hearts out for five days developing an addiction for the place. It was completely different to what we were expecting and any preconceived notions were well quashed.
Five years later, in search of new life direction we applied for the Green Card lottery. It’s a chance to win a much sought after Diversity Visa without any pretense of falling in love with a local or relying on a work visa that can fall through at an employer’s whim. You can read about what we went through to get it here.
Not knowing the result (the draw is in the May), we booked a vacation to New York for what the Farmers Almanac had predicted to be the worst two weeks of winter for the year. And unlike Accuweather, they nailed it with a blizzard hitting the city in the first 24 hours.
Over the two weeks we were snowed in, frozen and then went up to Boston to see what even colder weather felt like. Call us suckers for punishment but we wanted to make sure if we happened to be picked out in the Green Card draw that we wouldn’t be running back to the tropics with our tails between our legs after the first winter.
Come May, we were selected and had to sit on that fact until October when we flew down to Sydney for the consulate interviews and then wait until February when we were in a financial position to make the leap. Which brings us to the five year anniversary.
Imagine packing up your life, selling off your treasures and detritus and leaving everyone you love and everything you know to follow a dream. It only really hit at Los Angeles Airport where we had to hand over the mysterious envelope of papers the consulate had given us to carry . Then we both looked at each other – holy shit, what have we done!
Landing in New York, we caught a cab to a familiar place, the Wolcott, where we had first stayed in 2009. It was a relative haven and we hit the little Irish bar down the street to toast our stupidity or drown the initial shock and homesickness. There would be plenty of both in the first year. Luckily we were somehow blessed. We landed in an Airbnb owned by a young Australian family who helped us to Americanize our resumes, we picked up work quickly and Jess’s cousin gave up her apartment for a month to give us a space to get ourselves together until we had the jobs to secure an apartment and the all important healthcare.
We did it tough. Each day was a brutal life lesson, especially in the dead of winter. We made plenty of mistakes, survived retrenchment, health scares, apartment flooding and that’s just the start but five years in, we’re happy to have made the move as it’s unlocked a world of opportunities we didn’t have back in our home town.
So tonight we raise a glass and thank all our family, friends, co-workers and followers and say, thank you to you all and this bat-shit crazy place they call New York City.Follow & Connect with us