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On September 1, it will be a year. A year since I hauled up my life into my dad’s work trailer and my mom’s SUV and drove the 57.3 miles from my house to my new apartment in the city. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. In a way I feel like the days, weeks and months have flown by but at other times, I think I’ve felt every minute since I’ve been here.

It’s been a rough year for me. Adjusting to living on my own, handling everything for myself from bills to shopping to weathering out Hurricane Sandy on a ground floor apartment 3 blocks away from the flood zone.  I’ve had to deal with two serious and devastating family tragedies on my own, both of which I still cope with every day, will probably be coping with for a while. This city is tough, it’s tough on those who live here, those who try to make it, those who know they’ve been broken but still won’t leave. Balancing work full time and school full time and then trying to have some semblance of a life that doesn’t revolve around typing at my computer all day has been overwhelming and frustrating more times than I can count.

I’ve had my fair share of blows this past year. I’ve experienced that cliché movie moment of walking around the East Village at 1 in the morning, trying to find my friends at whichever bar they’re at, while it’s raining harder than you can believe, and a taxi cab comes and splashes a tidal wave of dirty city street water not merely onto you but into your shocked, gaping mouth. I’m still convinced that I now will die from a strange, new disease in the next 6 – 8 months from it. I’ve been late, tired, lost, lonely, angry and upset. My emotional range has been expanded doubly or more since living here.

It’s also been a great year. I’ve gotten a job at a company that I truly love, doing something that I feel I’m actually quite good at. Regardless of how I complain about grad school, I really like that, too. I love being in class and learning. I’ve always been a huge nerd like that. I’ve been kayaking and on water taxis to Ikea, on the Highline on a perfect summer day. I’ve eaten the best tacos of my life. I’ve spent nearly every Friday since summer began at the Far Rockaway beaches, karate chopping the waves and basking, well, let’s be honest, burning in the sunshine. I’ve gotten a cat, Joe. Joe the cat, a little tuxedo rescue, who gets his black fur all over my white comforter and his white fur all over my blue couch. Regardless, I don’t know what I’d do without him.

I honestly don’t think I would have made it a year here without the people I’ve met.  My friends have been my biggest and best achievement here. The people I surround myself with are kind, caring, funny, ridiculous human beings. People who act like dinosaurs when they’re drunk, will do the cup dance at the drop of a dime and who will create a new dance move called “the bird” with you. People who you routinely go to brunch and ice cream with and people who know the magical experience that is Fairway’s brie & blue combination cheese. Women who invite you to blog for them because they think you’ve got spunk.

It’s also the people who aren’t here all the time. My friends from college who are scattered around the country but who still feel so close and my friends from home, who really are more like family, that make me feel like I’ve never left even though I haven’t seen them in months. My massive, crazy, and over-the-top family who always have my back and are constantly rooting for me to just do me. Whatever sense of the word that is.

I think that’s the trick.

You can have a great job and a fancy apartment with a dishwasher and a doorman and a view of the Empire State building, but you need those people. The people who will go with you to get Mamoun’s falafel at 4 in the morning.  The people who you’d go to Brooklyn from East Harlem for. Those folks who get you intrinsically and understand your flaws and your strangeness and your strengths. So, as I reflect on my past year in New York and think about the years here to come, I know one thing for certain: to live in this city, you’ve got to find your people.