The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: The Reunion

I got off the plane with sleep in my eyes and a hint of deja vu. I had done this so many times before, it didn't even feel exciting. It just felt like it was time.

Until, of course, I actually got my ass off the plane and into a Lyft on my way to the leasing office to sign onto my new apartment. I stared out the window in awe as my driver took me through the streets of my new home, a borough I never thought I'd call such a thing: Brooklyn.

When I lived in New York before, I was in Manhattan. That was always the definition of New York to me: Manhattan. The rest of the state was inconsequential. Manhattan was my world and it was the only place I wanted to live - until I realized how much rent was. I (reluctantly) ran straight for Brooklyn.

The drive from JFK to Brooklyn showed me parts of the borough I'd never considered before. In my (one) experience, Brooklyn was overly hipster and ironic and everything I hated about everyone who tried to be "different" where I come from. It felt phony and forced, which was an unfair judgment for me to impose on a place I'd been exposed to for a grand total of three hours in 2016. This drive gave me a different perspective. The buildings were old yet beautiful, begging to tell a story. I instantly perceived how much quieter it was than Manhattan, but that brought me a sense of peace and a reminder of home. I felt at ease - not that I had much of a choice. This was my new home.

My driver dropped me off at the leasing office for my building. Signing the lease in person was the only way it could be done, so this had to be my first stop with my big red suitcase, my giant coat, and my crippling exhaustion and hunger. I felt a flutter of nervousness as the driver pulled over, signaling the ride had come to an end. My mother had flown here from Idaho earlier that morning, and she was already in the leasing office waiting for me.

Getting the slightest bit nervous before seeing my mother was a new feeling, something that was brought on by the simple fact that we've been living in different states for almost a year now and haven't seen much of each other. It's a strange feeling, not living with your family anymore.

Although I can feel my mother's love from any part of the globe, it's an entirely new experience to go from seeing her every single day to only every few months or so. Although things go back to normal once I've seen her and said hello, the initial reunion is a shock every time.

I walked into the leasing office, a small room decorated very minimalist-chic with exposed brick interior, sleek white tables, and Mac computers. All of the men were wearing yamakas and talking fast. There were two women - one of whom had to be my realtor, because the other was my mother.

I was sleep-deprived, hungry, and anxious to get my keys so I could get out of there, but all of these nagging urges were pushed aside for the moment I saw my mother. She sat there with the same smile on her face I've seen on her every single day. She's a glass half full kind of woman.

I was desperate to hide the annoyance on my face; I didn't want her to think it was directed at her. "Hi," I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. I'd spent so much of my adolescence making it very obvious how much she annoyed me and interfered with my life, as we all do to our parents at some point, that it was of utmost importance to me that I showed her I've grown up without actually saying those words.

The truth is, I was amazed by her devotion to me. When I decided to move to New York, I was unsure who would support me. I had been struggling quite a bit in California, and almost everyone's facial expressions when I told them I wanted to move to New York told me the same thing: You're an idiot.

Everyone in California thinks New York is impossibly expensive (it's actually about the same cost of living if you consider the car expenses you'll no longer be shackled to), therefore it wouldn't be wise for someone with almost nothing to her name to move there without knowing a soul.

When I told my mother I had gotten the job and wanted to move across the country within one week, I sensed the hesitation in her voice. She was nervous for me, as any good mother would be. She and my dad weren't in love with the idea of me moving so far away from everything I knew and moving even FARTHER away from their home in Idaho, but they knew it was something I needed to do. The day after I purchased my plane ticket, my mom purchased hers. She was going to go with me to New York for one week to help me settle in.

I was tremendously touched by this gesture. Of course, I guess it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. She's my mother and she's always loved me and wanted the best for me, but I've always resented that. I've been filled with doubt and fear for what feels like my entire life - doubt that anyone really gives a shit about anyone but themselves, and fear that if I let myself believe someone cares about me, I'll be crushed.

Somehow, it all clicked when I walked into that leasing office. My mother would drop her entire life for a week to come out and help my get settled in my new apartment. My mother would call me every single day for months on end just to talk to me about insignificant little isms, just to hear my voice. My mother would bottle up the entire world and give it to me if she could. I've been so lucky; I just never allowed myself to see it. No one has a Lori Engle.

The next week was possibly the best we've ever had together. It was the only time we've been alone for more than a couple days - except that probably isn't correct, and my mother will tell you. I am the queen of forgetting things, and many of my childhood memories are a blur. As soon as I say I've never done something before, my mother will swoop in with a triumphant smile to remind me that I have, actually, done that thing before and I was with her when I did it and I was two and don't I remember it happening? This used to bother me so much, but I now realize it's just her excitement to share with the world how much our relationship has always meant to her.

We spent the first two days scouring the neighborhood for things I would need around the house: a cheap set of plastic dressers, a mop and broom, some coat hangers for my closet, a laundry basket. The third day would be my first day of work.

We stopped for lunch and dinner each day after hours of exploring. I quickly came to love my new neighborhood. It's in an area of Brooklyn that is home to a lot of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, which is close enough to the culture I was ensconced in back in California.

I come from a Mexican lifestyle - my mother's side of the family is Mexican, everyone I've ever dated is Mexican, and most of my friends are Mexican or at least some type of Hispanic. Mexican culture isn't as rich in New York, which made me sad to think about. However, there is still a thriving Hispanic culture in my neighborhood (you know, bachata bumping in the front yard while kids play games and parents look on, sipping on Modelos and Coronas) that reminds me of home on days I need it the most.

Being surrounded by these familiar sounds and smells and my mother all at once felt so beautiful. I had been on my own for quite a while and was unused to the careful nurturing my mother is so capable of.

Aside from all of the many ways she helped me settle into my first New York apartment, she also was just such a lovely companion. I've always been told that, growing up as a woman, you go through stages with your mom. First you think she is the best thing in the world. Then, you begin to resent her and be annoyed by her very presence. Then, you start to realize how much she has done to you. Finally, she becomes your friend.

I appreciated her, on this little week we had together, just being my friend.

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