Tuesday 23 June 2015

I (Finally) Heart NY

Hey. We haven't spoken in a while, huh? 

It scares me how easy it is to lose track of time.

But there's a reason I haven't written, a reason I am so relieved to reveal is over, at last. 

I haven't written, because I couldn't bare to write you sadness. Because it broke my heart to find myself compelled only to put fingers to keys in sorrow. 

You see, I never thought it was going to be an easy transition between these two starkly contrasting worlds, of course I didn't, but I was not adequately prepared for just how frustrating and confusing and goddamn hard it was actually going to be.

When I explain my situation to people here, they often say 'wow, how do you do it?!' and I smile but literally have no idea, because I'm not doing a very good job of it so far.

I haven't written, because I couldn't bring myself to admit that I didn't love New York City.

I mentioned it briefly in my first two posts since moving here. How it wasn't that I was lonely, it was that wonderful things just seemed irrelevant without a person to share them with, to bounce enthusiasm and excitement off. It wasn't that I was lost, it was just that in this strange unknown metropolis, how was I supposed to know where I belonged when everything was alien?

But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was what I did to myself because of that.

For my first fortnight here, I loved it, but I was miserable. 

And I could not forgive myself for feeling that.

You're a 22 year-old girl living in New York City! This is everyone's dream! You are a young writer in the greatest city in the world, bursting with inspiration round every corner! This is the best shot you'll have to make it!

Yet there I was, sat in Brooklyn Botanic Garden as the late-afternoon sun beat relentlessly against my pale English skin, watching the little turtles in the Japanese peace garden drift lazily between the koi carp, and for not the first time, a woman taps me on the shoulder to take a photo of her and her family on this perfect day. And suddenly like a wave of nausea, the sense of isolation and loneliness grips me tight and firm, as I suddenly realise that my only role here seems to be a passerby capturer of other people's fondest memories, whilst unable to found any lasting, beautiful ones of my own. 

The guilt was astonishing and I loathed my misery. How could I be so ungrateful? How dare I squander this once in a lifetime opportunity because I just 'feel lonely'? But I didn't just hold a guilt to myself, I held it for others too. 

Being a blogger and having this opportunity that so many would love to experience, I almost feel like it's my duty to record it all. To relay every single thing as it happens to allow people the opportunity to empathise, visualise themselves here too - it's simply selfish to keep this all to myself, no? So I started beating myself up about not posting enough worthwhile photos on my instagram, not tweeting more about the city, or not starting my daily vlogs already. It's as though I felt had a responsibility to be having a great time all the time and making great content out of it too. Like I had to GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT y'know?


And so inevitably, my mood just worsened.

Then, an incredibly bad and unfortunate thing happened, which just felt like such a kick in the face. Like, universe, I'm taking that one personally. It hit me hard. But... I don't know if I'm gonna talk about that or not.

Finally at desperation point, I reached out to the one person in the world I thought could help me. A stranger, a traveller, and inspiration. 

How do you stop feeling lonely whilst travelling alone? I asked, no- I pleaded.

Among her beautifully heartfelt response, one part stood out to me so strongly, and like a pendulum chiming midnight, the cogs slipped into place.

I definitely think solo travel is a skill.  A muscle, that you strengthen. I'm at my parents' for the month of June, and visiting my nana's nursing home last week one of her helpers said, "you're about to go to Rome for two months? Alone?" And when she asked if I ever get lonely I hand-on-heart had just not thought about that. Because my muscle is bigger, now. And that doesn't mean I won't get lonely but it does mean that I know when I do, well. I have to wear something pretty and put on some war paint and find something fun to do and take myself out on a solo date where I romance myself. 

Finally, don't beat yourself up - PLEASE. Not every second of every day is gonna be a black-and-White Woody Allen movie shot of life. Days pass. TV shows get watched. Moping happens. I limit my "moments" to 24-hours and then force myself out and about. 

Her words were a catalyst that finally allowed me to realise. 

There are ups and downs in life, of course...

But on holiday, you don't have downs. You don't have time for them, so you ride this montage high of continual thumbs ups before you come crashing back to reality when the wheels skid on the tarmac of Heathrow Terminal 5.

But I'm not on holiday. Yeah at some point I'm coming back, but right now, this is my home. This is my job. This is my daily life. My friends, my travel route, my routine. And the highs in New York, ho ho, BOY are they soaring highs, but the lows are equally as spectacular, because of the clash of conscience and cliche about feeling miserable in New York. 

But what I was forgetting, is that I wasn't just blue in New York, now, I was blue at home. Where it's okay to be miserable and to not want to do anything. As long as it's not every day. 

Finally accepting that through Laura's words... gradually everything started to get so, so much better. Once I allowed myself to feel like shit, suddenly I didn't really need to anymore. 

Hey, even the sun started shining again.

And then I had my first perfect day. 

It was this Sunday just passed. 

In the morning, I woke early and took the ferry across the river to Wall St where I met a friend, Hywel. Miraculously, every train, bus and boat I took that day appeared just as I arrived, a little gift of redemption from the universe perhaps. From there we went to the Museum of Sex and awkwardly laughed at how many couples were curiously stroking one another's backs as they walked around. After, we got a drink and took a leisurely stroll down to Washington Square Park, one of the first places I'd visited when I was here with Flossie last year. The weather was beautiful. I sent her a photo. 

Later, we departed and I wondered around Manhattan alone, not once feeling like I was so. Tourists asked me for directions and I could actually point them in the right way! I even found a Goodwill store, and my god, if you think British charity shops are good...

Later, I took the subway back to Brooklyn just in time to head over to a BBQ downtown hosted by one of the girls who used to work on the boat. So with Paige, another Brit on board, we grabbed some beers and headed down to this amazing Brownstone townhouse straight out of the movies, to this amazing garden party with smiling faces, chatty, interesting strangers and a night which ended up on the roof, with a perfect view of the summer solstice fireworks around the Statue of Liberty. 

And right at that moment, I looked over at the twinkling Manhattan skyline, down at my feet stood on the roof of that townhouse in Brooklyn, and right then, I felt home. 

My name is Katie, and I heart NY.