Here’s what feels true: almost every part of me is thriving in NYC. Thriving. I did not want these two months in New York City to upend my Nashville life, but I think they are going to. I think they have. So what am I supposed to do? I don’t know. But I do know that I love to glow.
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After our staff meeting on Monday, I grabbed my dirty laundry and a jumpsuit that needs alterations, and I walked down the stairs and out the door and over two blocks to drop my things off. Neither my apartment nor my building have laundry, so around the corner I go.
As I walked home, I stopped and grabbed some ramen for lunch. It was a smidge out of the way, but I knew I had the time and it wasn’t a long walk. And WORTH IT for ramen.
Then on Monday afternoon, a friend called me just as the work day was ending. Even though, thanks but no thanks daylight savings time, it is now mostly dark o’clock when I’m done working, I tossed my air buds into my ears and headed out the door, swapping stories on the phone, walking around the blocks of my neighborhood. Before I knew it, I was about fifteen blocks from my house, so I made a right turn, went over two blocks to a street I haven’t explored much, kept talking and listening as I worked my way back up to my home.
And. AND. Even though it was cold, I stopped and got frozen yogurt because I didn’t even know those places still existed and thank heavens I walked this particular street I hadn’t ever been down because now I know how to find fro-yo at any given time.
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(If you are new to this podcast or this series, hi I’m Annie. I usually live in Nashville, but until December, I’m living in New York City. This is the sixth episode in this series AFD in NYC. The first five are linked in the show notes below.)
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My friends Meredith, Trevor, and I saw the Broadway show Gutenberg on Sunday night- it is so silly and wonderful- and then we waited for our favorite Elphaba, Mary Kate, to finish up at Wicked The Musical. Trevor, Mary Kate’s husband, asked how my life is here, for like an overall summary, since we are about at the halfway point of my time here. And here’s what I said, and here’s what feels true: almost every part of me is thriving here.
Like, you know how when the beast is turning into the prince at the end of the movie Beauty and the Beast (spoiler alert sorry) and there is light coming out of his hands and feet? I feel like that. Like I’m glowing with energy and light and thriving.
And one of the areas this feels the most true is in my body.
I can feel it.
I’m not talking about my size or shape, that’s boring and not what matters, what I’m talking about is how clear my brain feels after I walk home from a podcast interview. And how strong my legs feel as I climb up the stairs trying to get to the surface after a crowded subway ride. And how a city full of hard workers and successful business people is also a city of people moving their bodies. It isn’t forced exercise, it’s your life.
What do you do when the healthiest version of you doesn’t seem to exist in the town where you live? What do you do when your body feels the BEST- with the most glow and the most strength and the most connection- in another city besides home?
I don’t know.
I genuinely don’t know what to do.
And maybe this is too personal for me to be writing about and sharing about, but the truth is I wrote a whole other AFD in NYC essay but didn’t finish it because I just can’t get this off my mind. I’m thinking about it all the time.
Have I found the secret to the life I want in a city where I don’t live full time? Have I finally found a life where being healthy and not sedentary is just part of the gig and I don’t have to fight for it?
What am I supposed to do with this?
I’ve never been passively healthy. I’m not sure anyone is. But I accidentally walk 10,000 steps a day here. Like, legit, without trying. I am just doing my life and my life here doesn’t include sitting on my couch and watching TV or driving my car or searching on my calendar to find when to exercise.
Those are all core tenants of my Nashville life. And I love TV, and I appreciate that I have a car to drive, and I am proud of how I make exercise a priority in my life at home. None of that is bad, it’s just not what makes me feel the healthiest. It doesn’t make me glow like this.
So what am I supposed to do?
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Do you know what’s fascinating about my life in New York City? It is actually so much slower than my Nashville life. I know that sounds insane, but it really is.
In Nashville, I can finish my work day, walk to the parking lot, hop in my car, buzz over to the Barnes house to see the kids then drive quick to a short dinner with friends then try to get home in time to do a load of laundry and work out before bed, but I’m probably also gonna watch a show so I’m in bed around 11pm.
Y’all mention it to me a lot, whether I like it or not, how busy my life looks on the outside. I prefer the term full, but I think you could make a case that my life in Nashville is full and fast. And that combo might be labeled by some as quote busy.
But here, my life isn’t fast. Because just to get to the subway is a six minute walk if I’m going to the A or the C train, and a ten minute walk if I’m going to the 123. Then I have to ride somewhere, which is great because I’m really enjoying reading a book by NT Wright on my kindle. Then I exit the subway station, pull out my phone to look at a map to sort out which way to go, and then walk- 5, 10, 12 minutes to the restaurant or show or church or wherever I’m going.
My life is so full here, but it is not fast. It’s paced. And I’m moving so much more.
What am I supposed to do with that?
I love the speed here. Slow and intentional and purposeful. Of course I walk fast, you know I do, but I am still only going at the speed of my own feet.
I did not want these two months in New York City to upend my Nashville life, but I think they are going to. I think they have.
I need to live where there are sidewalks in Nashville. I need to live where I can walk to people and places. I love my house, you know how much I love that place, but I sense my priorities changing and I just have to shape my life differently. Moving is a pain and expensive, but I’m making calls and sending texts and starting to ask some important questions.
Do I move to a new neighborhood in Nashville? A place where I can walk to work and to friends and to restaurants and to a grocery store? Is there any way I can keep this glow in my life when I live in Nashville? That’s what I am going to have to try to find when I get home.
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I’ll tell you the other favorite thing about my body in New York City. (That is such a weird sentence.) Everywhere I go, I’m around other people. I’m around their bodies. Their energy. Their history. When I am in line for a Broadway show, I am next to other people, excited for what they are about to see. When I’m walking through the skinny aisles of the grocery store, and that woman and I have to keep passing each other and moving out the way for each other, our bodies are involved. When I’m praying at church I’m surrounded by people who are also praying, and our prayers are embodied by our sitting or standing or kneeling or open hands. Our bodies carry our souls everywhere we go and here in New York City, there are lots of bodies and lots of souls.
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After the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Meredith and I were taking a train downtown to Broadway, to see Gutenberg. As you can imagine, with 50,000 people running the race, their friends and families also here to cheer them on, the subway trains and the subway stations were just packed to the gills. Everywhere you looked, there were tired-bodied people, in their running clothes, wrapped in an orange finisher’s cape.
The next stop after we got on a train, a guy about my age, in his orange cape and exhausted face, squished onto the train as well, right up to Meredith and me.
Face to face with a stranger I’ve never met, about a full four inches between our bodies, I asked, “Well, how do you feel?”
“Really tired,” he said. And he looked it.
I asked about his time, how it went, and who was cheering for him. In the time it took to go about two stops, he tells us his wife had to leave on Saturday, missing him race on Sunday, because his daughter is sick and they take her in to a special hospital this week, and his wife needed to head on back to get ready for that. He was hurrying home the next morning, Monday, probably almost exactly when I’m walking my laundry to the laundromat and picking up ramen, he’s taking his baby to the hospital. Of course he’s really tired.
Georgia Kate, he said her name. And face to face, four inches apart, no idea what my name is and me not knowing his, I stepped one inch closer to him and said, “Every time I think of her name, I promise to pray.” He said thanks. And we got off the train, leaving him to keep riding.
I am so glad we weren’t in separate vehicles, driving down a road in lanes beside each other. I’m so glad our bodies were on the same subway train. I’m so glad my body was there.
I’m so glad my body is here.
I’m so glad for my body.
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I think what I’m saying is, for a thousand reasons, I love my body here. I love how it moves and how it takes up space and shares space. I love how it fights off diseases and carries me across town. I love how my body exists and holds the universe that is me and I love how it glows.
What am I supposed to do with how much I love my body in New York City, more than I ever have, at any size or shape or age, in any other city?
I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. But I love to glow.
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If you have thoughts to share, there’s a great place for that on instagram… @thatsoundsfunpodcast. Thanks for following along on this journey with me. We are sure learning together real time, aren’t we? Hope you have a great Wednesday, and I’ll see you tomorrow here on That Sounds Fun.
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NYTimes bestselling Christian author, speaker, and host of the That Sounds Fun Podcast, Annie F. Downs shares with you some of her favorite things: new books, faith conversations, entertainers not to miss, and interviews with friends.
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