I am an only child and a narcissist and when people say "What's your favorite holiday" I say "My birthday." And Sunday was my birthday and it seemed important, this birthday, my thirty-third birthday, a birthday of symmetry and also I read somewhere on the internet recently that a study was done showing that people become much happier after their thirty-third birthdays. Obviously that is the same as scientific proof.

But it's true I am happy and I went to the top of the Empire State Building for my birthday, a thing I have never done before, and looked out over the teeming messy sprawl of the city that has been crueler to me and kinder to me than anyone I have ever loved in my life, and I thought about the almost-four years I have spent here and while I had these deep thoughts a storm rolled in across the northern part of Manhattan and the sky splintered into a rainbow over the roof of the Chrysler building, and I felt for a moment I was in a movie about my life, the movie about the girl who worked so hard and feared mightily and all those months she almost didn't make her rent and then everything got better and she bought a pair of amazing shoes and wore them to the top of the Empire State Building and saw a rainbow over the roof of the Chrysler building on her birthday. One of those manipulative soundtracks engineered to make the audience cry without feeling any real sadness at all. And if you want to know the truth I slept in, the morning of my birthday, and put on a playlist I made last year when I was not happy, a playlist of all the songs that were my favorite songs when I was seventeen. They're still good songs.

And do you know the last four years have been heartbreaking and exhilarating and strange and lovely and I look at pictures of myself from the summer before I moved to New York and I don't even know who that girl is. I look older and sadder and tougher and probably meaner and I know what direction I am facing when I come out of the subway without having to look, now, and I love it here in a way that takes hold more and more every day I live here, even when it's hard, even when it's awful. And my life is made out of a lot of hustle and a lot of luck but I can tell you the life I live now is the exact life I wanted, when I was seventeen, the life I did not even know was an option until I was living it, and it feels really fucking good. It feels amazing. It feels like a gift. And when people ask me what I do I say, "I'm a writer," and this time, this year, finally, I don't even flinch.