After SF and Canada I still had one more sojourn – Jersey City/New York City for about 3 weeks – before moving to Vermont, my final destination (for now). Having grown up constantly visiting NYC and then lived there for my first two years out of college it always had a certain familiarity to me. But when I lived in San Francisco I would return to NYC with more foreign eyes – it was a place I was still fond of but would never move back to in a million years; it paled in comparison to my beloved SF. Which is why I was surprised when I had such a positive view of NYC this time around.
This was not an immediate reaction. As soon as I stepped out of the path train station I was engulfed in people hurrying to wherever they were headed, hemmed in by the towers surrounding us. I was in Midtown. And I was reminded why I had vowed to stay away from this busy metropolis where everything is so fast-paced that stopping to enjoy life feels like a waste of time. But as my visits changed to different parts of town – West Village, Hells Kitchen, and my old stomping ground Gramercy – I was reminded of the calmer parts of New York. Of the possibility of finding a neighborhood feeling, of the joy of simply walking through the streets, now appearing active more than overwhelming, and of the undeniable energy that infects every outing in that city. My last trip into the city to have dinner with a friend I actually had the thought that maybe I could live there again one day – not forever, but maybe for a short time.
I think my change of heart had a lot to do with expectations. As I said before, I had built up San Francisco as my ideal location, the place I wanted to settle once I thought I could stop moving around for a while, and was disappointed when it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I expected to hate NYC, I did last year when I visited before I left, so when I actually found it enjoyable I was pleasantly surprised. It probably also has to do with the familiar feeling I associate with it. To this day, when I say “the city” I mean New York. I remembered subway lines and bar locations, and it took me all of 30 seconds to resume my NYC-pace walk.
The other half of my time during those three weeks was spent in Jersey City. This is a city that has really grown on me. It has everything you could ever want in a smaller, calmer setting. Great food, chill bars, and a beautiful walking/running path along the water with a view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the NYC skyline. I can see why my parents chose to move there (especially since their apartment looks out at that view) and friends have relocated there. I look forward to visiting again soon.
Jersey City was also the place where I finally did nothing. Memorial Day Weekend I had my parents’ apartment to myself, and I didn’t leave for 72 hours. That is not an exaggeration. I’ve been living a life where I pack up my belongings and move locations every 72 hours, so not having to even leave the apartment was a welcomed break. I slept in, I watched movies, I snacked on American foods I’d missed, and I watched the sunset with a beer and my drum on the balcony. It was bliss. I took a true break, my first real weekend in a year, and it was everything I wanted it to be.
But what really made this time great was the time I got to spend catching up with so many people from all walks of life – dinner dates with middle school, high school and college best friends; my traditional Capitol Grille steak lunch and a midday Mets game with my dad; Mother’s Day brunch and a BBQ with extended family; my 10-year high school reunion with so many people I haven’t seen in so long (thank you all for reading, I had no idea, you made my night); and Pitch Perfect 2 and one-on-one beer pong with my SF roommate and other half. It was a busy and wonderful few weeks.
It was a lovely sojourn, but by the end I was ready to move up to Vermont. I felt like I was just biding my time until I could get to all the things I wanted to do this summer. Before I left on my RTW trip I felt like I was living temporarily in NYC and SF, just going through the motions until my departure. Now that I was back in the US but not at my final stopping point, I again felt very transient. It’s a lifestyle I’m not too fond of after a year of completely living for today. Then again, this summer is three months of temporarily living, waiting until the fall when I leave for my next multi-month journey. So I will just have to get used to this feeling that I don’t like. But it’s only three months, so I’m trying to view it as a rest more than waiting for life to start. We’ll see how it goes.