That's right boys and girls. If I'm going to have the cheesy Soul II Soul song stuck in my head, the least I can do is get it stuck in yours, too.
This has been such an internally tumultuous week for me. I don't think I've ever had such a difficult time adjusting from a vacation before. It reminded me more of when I moved back to NYC after living abroad and had to cope with reverse culture shock.
I may be waving around my geek flag here, but I have been thinking about a storyline on this one TV show where the main character dies, but is missed so much by her loved ones that they cast a spell to bring her back. Her friends think they are rescuing her from a hell dimension, but when she returns to them, they learn that she was actually in heaven, and they brought her back into a dark, difficult and dangerous world, a kind of hell on earth. That's how I have spent much of the week feeling: like I was cast out of heaven, out of an idyllic place where I was happy and content. Now I'm stuck in a place that is noisy, crowded, and dirty, full of anger and anxiety. Not quite hell, but far from heaven.
I decided I needed to get out of here. Since I don't know what the hell to do career-wise, I might as well see more of the world, right? I found two options with potential: getting certified to teach English as a second language in Prague, or getting a year-long visa to work in New Zealand. I decided that if I don't have a major breakthrough by the end of the year, I'd start saving up, pack up, and leave the country for an extended--hopefully indefinite--amount of time.
Then something happened. Work became more tolerable and I found a couple of interesting new jobs to apply for. I discovered how much I enjoyed some of my routines, like the exercise class I take three times a week (which I genuinely missed while away) and making plans with my friends for the weekend to go to some of our favorite places (Bar K, Cozy Bar). Then the weather brightened up, and the spring air cheered me up despite myself. Yesterday, I walked downtown, passing the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building, weaving around patches of tourists, trying to see the city through their cameras. I realized I love this damn place. I could no longer envision myself moving to New Zealand (I love sheep, but not that much). I don't know if it was the pretty day or what, but I relaxed and suddenly believed that everything would work out, would be okay.
Sometimes I'm not so great at this adulthood thing, the responsibilities and inevitable fact that life isn't always fun or fair. Last year, when I came back from my trip to Europe, I was in the beginning stages of a relationship, so I felt like I had something to come back to. This time around, returning to New York emphasized all the things lacking in my life and made me feel lonely. When I was away, I didn't feel lonely. I wouldn't have felt lonely even if that last night never happened, because I had such a wonderful time with the travel group.
New York can be maddening in its emphasis on materialism and ambition; it can turn a magnifying lens on all the holes in your life. I'm trying not to let that happen. Yes, it's beautiful out, a perfect backdrop to daydream, huddle over small tables in outdoor cafes, and fall in love. Seeing that I no longer have the warm and fuzzies for Barman Ben, and the guy I met on my trip is going to be far away for a long time, I'll make do with letting the city work its charms on me. There's a sense of possibility in the air, the promise of surprise around the corner. I'm keeping an open mind and an open heart. I'm ready for a homegrown adventure.