I’ve been reminiscing a lot lately.
I thought back to when I first moved to NYC in March of 2017. I was staying with my dear friend Paulina in Greenpoint, who graciously allowed me to chill out and have a space in her full-of-character railroad style apartment, filled with love, laughter and lots of darling plants, to begin my job hunt with a dream of NYC living. I had brought one medium suitcase to the city. Just. Four. Pairs. Of. Shoes. Trust me, it had started as two large suitcases only the day prior, but as I packed, I whittled and shaved at the contents arduously to make it truly NYC-space-sized worthy.
Reflecting to that point in my life now, how can I even begin to describe the mindset of a forever changed me? I had taken some major time off to spend with my grandparents in Taiwan and to study Mandarin Chinese at the end of 2015. That year in Taiwan marked my so-called fork-in-the-road, that pivotal point in one’s life where that familiar racetrack path of life veers off into a dirt road of an adventure. Unpredictable. Unfounded. Unprecedented. An orbit totally and completely off-path jutting into a vast expanse opening into a surprising showcase of the most dazzling, glittering, beaming stars.
I was blinded.
Coming back to the states at the beginning 2017, such a metamorphosis of the very constants I knew had overtaken the direction of growth yet to come. In Taiwan, I had met my now husband and suddenly, we were in a long-distance relationship from NYC to Australia. I had improved my Chinese reading, writing and speaking ability by a long way from when I had started learning as an American-born Taiwanese. Words cannot possibly describe the trajectory of life that occurred by taking such a leap, a big risk of leaving my job as a buyer for Kohl’s Department Stores after ten years together. Leaving behind what I knew was not easy but after many sessions with my then wise and caring therapist, it was something I had to do for myself and for my family.
All of that feels like such a blur. A significant blur that’s led to a new path and numerous twists and turns throughout. A journey in New York City that I could not have predicted and now, today, May 10th, 2020, being amidst one of the craziest turn of events in my life, presumably in most people’s lives around the world, I sit and reflect on three years ago.
Just three years ago.
April 10, 2017.
It had been two weeks after my move from the midwest to NYC and already I was immersed and soaking up all of what the city had to offer. It was a dream, it was a challenge, it was simultaneously everything I had ever thought and nothing like I had ever imagined. A plethora of experiences and feelings completely compact in the course of just a couple weeks. Happenings and sightings as if turning a clock’s minute hand at a 16x fast-forward from the tick-tock of any other city.
And now. PAUSE. A seemingly rewind of time. Melting, slowing, backtracking. Could we possibly be living in a Back to the Future moment? Had the hour hand and the minute hand swapped positions, chased each other around feverishly and then somehow ended up in the same exact spots? Did Wednesday decide to play a trick on Friday who thought it was Tuesday who put on its Sunday best only to realize it was still Saturday?
Huh? Is time playing jokes on me and everyone around me?
Such is our current reality. But as time slows and time morphs, perspective can make its way forward. Perspective, typically hidden under the stresses of life, the busy moments of hustle bustle, the routine and rushed heartbeat of a day, of 24 consecutive hours, of the rising and setting of the sun.
So today, equipped with perspective, I sit and think about the words I had written upon reflection after two weeks of moving to NYC.
“This week I felt sadness. I felt rejected. I saw beautiful cherry blossoms as tears of allergy season streamed down my face. I listened to Polish, German, French, Korean, Japanese, Russian and Chinese conversations on the train. I wished + hoped to hear Basque. I walked in the near freezing cold + submersed my ballet-flat-sportin’ feet in puddles of water. I saw friends. I re-met new-ish friends. I cried. I laughed. I reminisced. I felt I wasn’t enough. I witnessed a parade of people carrying a variety of palm leaves heading to mass for Palm Sunday. I saw anger + disappointment on faces. I walked through the crowds in the anonymity of it all à la salmon swimming. I went to Target + bought stuff I had not planned to buy. I drank copious amounts of all varieties of delicious + much-needed coffee. I empathized with two women at the bakery over the saddest yet seemingly quotidian news in the paper while fawning over cheesecake + muffins described to me as the best in the area, only available every other Thursday. I cabbed it. I walked. I took pictures. I strolled through Chinatown in the beaming sun with original Taiwanese bubble tea on a very full and satisfying dim sum lunch. I made dinner. I ate dinner made with love. I met a cute + very hyper puppy. I watched stomach-wrenching so-called leaders in the media. I pondered over how to create more awareness + acceptance for all in this world. I window shopped with the longing for this form of shopping to turn real transaction-based, contingent on the realization of landing a job. I felt happy. I felt really happy. I felt really really happy. I felt anxious. I watched a moving movie on orcas in Patagonia. I felt the montage of unfamiliar stops whiz by very unintentionally while choosing express instead of local. I was productive. I visited tall buildings with gorgeous views. I related. I felt the mind fuck of competition versus others, versus myself. I felt grateful. I re-explored my favorite places + old stomping grounds. I tried to exude love + compassion. I argued unsuccessfully with a Via driver + rated the experience 3 stars out of 5 the next day. I danced foolishly at my friend’s apartment. I smiled at strangers. I kept to myself while grabbing convenient but not completely satisfying sushi. I felt confident. I listened to Whitney Houston on blast. I ate the most scrumptious vegan chocolate cake with a sweet, uplifting + contagiously effervescent friend. I felt one with and at peace with the pigeons ruling the streets. I lied in the last sentence. I loved the sensation of cobblestone under flats + mourned my past strong relationship with 4″ stilettos. I missed family. I found family.
I couldn’t possibly describe it all, but I felt alive. I felt at home. Thank you, NYC.”
And now, as life continues to attack and surprise, time suddenly enables the ability to both appreciate and yearn all I had experienced in this amazing city that continues to offer hope and inspiration. NYC, may the pulse of who you are, may your soul that beats, may your fork-in-the-road altering personality find its way again. May you reveal to us yourself once again in time: sometimes pausing, other times rushing, often times holding up traffic, sometimes operating off-schedule…but always being you. May you return in time.
All in time. All in a New York minute.