Longing for a place that isn’t your home is a phenomenon that I don’t understand, but regularly suffer from. In fact, the number one place I don’t long for is the town I’m from.

Right now, New York City has been haunting my dreams. I never wanted to leave. I’ve always wanted to go back. And as the once important things tying me to my home fall away, all I think about is New York.

It is a food lovers’ paradise while daring you to find an apartment you can cook in. I am still haunted by the perfection that was everything I ate at Eataly, the burgers of Shake Shack, poutine, and the ability to buy a soft pretzel on the street at any hour of the day, (or quite frankly, any food you can imagine.)

I miss how my heart skipped a beat and caught in my chest every time I saw the skyline like I was meeting a cute man for the first time. I was enchanted by an island dominated both by commercialism and business in industry, but more literally by a park. Just saying it sounds like an oxymoron. And yet it works.

That is the story of NYC though. It shouldn’t work, and yet it does. I shouldn’t be wrapped up in missing a city that smells like garbage, where in my short time there I had a mouse and a cockroach live in my room, where mystery sewer steam shoots out of grates in the ground in the middle of the sidewalk, which also happen to rip off my high heels, where the subway is so hot in September that I could faint in a rush hour train, (no really, that happened.)

And even though its no Chicago, where every business man on the street will stop to hold open the door for me, I still miss it. Not only do I miss the culture, the vibrancy and the life that exists 24/7 in Manhattan like no where else, but I love the people. Because they don’t give a fuck. Where I’m from, being dressed like a business woman in Midtown turns heads. So does a purple mohawk. Neither does in NY. No one cares. You are 100% free to be exactly who you want to be with very minimal judgement. And while they may not go out of their way to be polite, it is the least stared at, different, or judged I have ever felt in any place.

Not to mention that the day I fainted on that subway, five women pulled me off the train, protected all my things, gave me food and water, fanned me, asked who they could call, and insisted I contact them later so they knew I was okay. Such kindness for a total stranger I had never experienced before, and it was only my first week in America’s largest city.

And that combination is a beautiful thing.