I grew up bouncing between Maui, Hawaii and Chicago. It sounds like a dream childhood, and, in many ways, it was. Who wouldn't want to spend summers an hour outside of a pretty dope city and the rest of the year in paradise?
The thing is, during those tentative and formative years, I never really felt at home in either place. Instead, a constant feeling of restlessness accompanied my time spent in both locations.
Whenever I was in Chicago, I would find myself longing for the sandy beaches of Hawaii, and whenever I was on Maui, I would find myself overcome with the desire to be in the Windy City.
I was never just content in my surroundings. I wondered if this was how I would always be: never happy, always waiting for something better, habitually pining for the chance to escape.
But then everything changed.
In the fall of 2009, I moved to New York City.
Once I moved to New York, I was done. This was it. I fell head-over-f*cking-heels.
Yep: Girl moves to the big city to make it big as a writer, has a host of harrowing journeys and finds herself. I'm all right with being a cliché. For the first time in my entire life, I was actually content where I was. I was finally home.
The high price of tiny apartments is small when the reward is being in Manhattan. You're paying to be in the most incredible, exciting city on earth. You're in the middle of everything. You have the whole world at your fingertips, from Broadway to Fashion Week to Central Park to the electric nightlife. You can have anything you desire in New York.
For the last seven years, my love affair with New York City has consumed my heart and soul. If I could, I would marry this city. My relationship with it has been the most committed relationship I've ever had.
My status as a New Yorker was one of those things you're just sure of, an indisputable fact of life. No matter what happened, we had an unbreakable bond that would stand the test of time.
Yet, though it pains me to say it, my feelings are starting to change.
Over the last few months, things with my boyfriend -- with New York -- have started to take a turn for the worse.
You see, last year, I got into a relationship with someone other than New York.
Right around the time I turned 25, I decided to give up my party girl ways for good. I was over the nightlife and clubs. I was finished being constantly hungover and doing irreparable damage to my body, so I started working out and completely stopped drinking.
I've never felt better. I am killing it at work. My body is looking great, and I'm finally in control of the anxiety disorder that has plagued me for over six years.
I never thought I would see the day, but I've finally embraced adulthood and begun planning my future with a real man whom I adore.
I'm not entirely sure when the feelings of discontentment managed to weasel their way into my weary heart, but somehow they have burrowed in.
New York, I love you, but you're bringing me down — GigiEngle (@GigiEngle) January 8, 2016
I guess it has to do with the move into adulthood. The things that were once all too important to me as a girl in her early 20s suddenly seem trite and unfulfilling.
My life is no longer about clubs, bars and bed-hopping; it's about success, health and self-improvement. I'd much rather stay in and cook dinner with bae than go out drinking until 3 am. I don't care if that makes me sound boring. I'm not going to apologize for being happy.
The hustle and bustle of New York -- the intense and exciting energy that once fueled my soul -- has started to wear me out. The loud noises and crowds are now just an annoying hassle I have to deal with on a daily basis.
It was my wise little sister who pinpointed my tumultuous feelings of dissatisfaction by putting the situation in straightforward terms:
I don't understand why you love New York anymore. You don't even do anything in New York. You go to work, go to the gym and then spend time with your boyfriend. I don't get why you need to be there to do those things.
It made me contemplate my life in this city. Why was I paying such an exorbitant amount of money to live in a city that I wasn't even taking advantage of?
Wouldn't it make more sense to live in a city where what I'm paying for my Brooklyn apartment would have me in a high-rise building with a doorman? Wouldn't it be fiscally responsible to save the money I'm wasting on New York for my future?
My once-passionate, fiery, unshakable love for New York is starting to dissolve into apathy. And it is breaking my f*cking heart.
I'm finding it hard to accept this state of mind. I don't want to fall out of love with New York. I want to deny the undeniable.
Falling out of love with your city is exactly like falling out of love with a person. New York has been my lifeblood, my kindred spirit and my soulmate for seven f*cking years.
Letting go of something that has been so intertwined with my personal identity is so astonishingly terrifying. It's like when a love that was once the be-all and end-all of your life stops being enough for you, leaving you desperate and hungry for the stomach flip that used to thrill you.
You fight to regain that adoration, you try to recapture the good times and relish in the memories, but to no avail.
Love cannot be forced. Not every love can stand the test of time. Sometimes a love burns as brightly as the sun, only to fade into the night sky. Even a love as great as a girl's with her city.