Thoughts on Moving Back to Albany

 

When I was in middle school I had three key beliefs about my future:

1. I wouldn’t buy a house. Instead, I’d live in a RV. I’d drive around the United States and park on residential sidewalks and in Walmart parking lots. My cousins teased they’d let me park my RV in their four-car garages in the winter so I wouldn’t freeze.

2. I wouldn’t get married. In my 7th-grade Home & Careers class, we gave presentations on where we saw ourselves in 20 years. I said I’d either be a writer or video game designer. I also said I probably would never get married because, “who would marry me?”

3. I wouldn’t settle back in my hometown. I never felt a deep connection with Albany, NY. I don’t remember feeling a sense of community. What I do remember was a sense of dread, that if I did stay in Albany, the only future for me would be working in the restaurant business. And if I wanted to build a career in writing, then I needed to move far away.

To be clear, I had (and still have) an amazing support system. I wake up everyday and am literally awash in gratitude for my wife (clearly I got #2 wrong), my amazing parents, brothers and sister, aunts, uncles and cousins.

However, I believe it’s important to remove yourself from that support system at certain points in your life. It’s great for making you feel safe, but comfort stops you from doing great things.

All of this to say, it’s particularly amusing looking back at all of this, considering the fact I’ve started looking to buy a house in Albany. Texts like this between my parents and I are getting more common:

albany text

Moreover, I realized I’m actually looking forward to moving back to Albany. Sometime in the past year, I warmed up to the idea, and I don’t really know how it happened. If I had to trace the genesis of the thought, the seed started with four ideas:

1. It’s your fault. Feeling a lack of connection to a city (and its people) was my responsibility, not anyone else’s. I understand that now, and I know the work it takes to build relationships.

2. The person moving back isn’t the same person who left. I am not the same person who admitted to his classmates he had such low self-esteem that he didn’t think another person could love him.

3. The city you’re returning to is not the same city you left. I’ve visited many times in the last two years. Albany isn’t the same place where I grew up.

4. The world will never be the same. You can’t make decisions based on a reality that no longer exists. The first step towards good decision-making is seeing the world as it is, not what it was or what you want it to be. The year I left Albany, Google IPO’ed and Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook. Justin Timberlake’s claim to fame was revealing Janet Jackson’s breast. Tobey Maguire was still Spider-Man.

I think I was right assuming that if I stayed in Albany, I’d have fallen into the restaurant business and I’d have resented it. I’d never have given a career in writing a chance to develop.

But returning 10 years later, living in Albany longer seems like it will be a detriment to my career. A strong enough foundation is in place that I can continue building, no matter where I live. Also, my aversion to getting back into the restaurant business is gone, now that I’ve read and seen how other operators conduct their business.

Photo Credit: Essential Photos

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