Sunday 26 July 2015

The Great Escape

It's taken almost two thirds of my trip, but I think I've figured out what frustrates me so much about being here.

Being on this boat does not feel like I am in New York City. 

It's a completely independent and self-sufficient universe on board here, and sometimes it feels as though the glittering skyline just beyond the harbour is almost mocking, saying 'yeah this is what you could be having' and here I am, trapped aboard this albeit beautiful boat, succumbing to quite literal cabin fever.

It's easy to slip into the all-encompassing mindset of being on the boat, just as it's easy to slip into the mindset of being in the heart of New York City, but trying to consider both of those contexts at the same time inevitably results in a complete clash, and it's nigh on impossible to consider that both of these things are actually relevant at the same time. 

In a massive shock to my system, it's taking a toll on my mental health. 

Whether its just my perception, reality, or the glamour of this dream is slowly wearing off, the work commitment seems to have become so much more challenging and less rewarding - not challenging in a way that it's difficult, but quite the opposite. Challenging because my tasks are now so menial, so mundane and pointless that time slows down to a snails pace and it's impossible for me to avoid despair at the notion of wasting so much precious time here. 

Yes, this is what I signed up for. 

Yes, I get to live in New York City for free.

Yes, the benefits of life here do outweigh the negatives of being on the boat...

But Laura's words echo in the back of my mind each day;

" I found the point at which an adventure stops being a route to personal growth and pushing boundaries, and becomes an exercise into damaging my health: physical, and mental. "

And last week, I had the horrifying realisation that if that day were my last day here, and I was heading off to the airport that night, to head home to my parents and open that front door where my mum would come rushing over and throw her hands around me and exclaim, 'So, how was it?!'

If I ended like this, my response would be, 'Yeah it was really great thanks.'

And I don't know about you, but that's really fucking not okay with me. 

I did not drop out of uni, quit my job, sell my car, leave my flat, drop all my friends and family and everything I knew, to spend over a grand to move halfway across the world to the city of dreams to come back and say;

Yeah it was great.

I refuse to return anything less than absolutely fucking devastated.

I want to step through that front door and crumple into a heap of anguish that I've forever left a part of my soul in New York City, that the experiences and conversations and people and places have forever altered and enriched my character, the trajectory of my existence perpetually and inescapably defined and metamorphosised by that time I moved to New York City on my own when I was 22. 

And that's something I sure as hell do not feel in the context of this boat.

So, what is a girl to do?

I have found myself at a fork in the road. 

Just as had happened when I was in my final year of University, I am faced with a life-changing decision. The easy option - swallow my pride, remain, deal with it, try and make the best of a bad situation. The hard option - stop complaining, recognise my unhappiness, and find a way to do something the fuck about it. 

I pooled together the last of my savings and considered all of my options. 

I couldn't afford a hotel or an air b'n'b for the amount of time I needed it for, and I couldn't stay with friends for that length of time. With nerves blooming in my stomach, I realised the only remaining option was the most terrifying. If I was as determined to get out as I said I was... I was going to have to venture into the complete unknown, and even though I still felt like a child in this bizarre alien city of backdrops and droptops, completely off my own back... I was going to have to find and pay for my very own place.

So I did.

I spent an entire week of research, investigation and optimism, spending countless hours and hours scouring sublet listings on craigslist and firing off hopeful emails, only to have days of agonising wait, constantly refreshing my empty inbox.

Finally, I received just one response.

And I don't know, perhaps I'm an inevitable sentimentalist, but that one response seemed to fall straight from the hand of Lady Fate herself.

I jumped at the chance to view the place, and to my delight, found the guy on the other end, Tom, was British, moving out of his apartment in the last month before their lease ran out as he and his wife had a new place. 

And I'll be damned if the place wasn't the closest thing to perfection I'd ever seen. In the heart of Bushwick, Brooklyn, one block from the L train, just a couple of stops to Williamsburg and a further few more into Manhattan, the spacious apartment was airy and light, with the white-washed walls and laminate wooden floors I'd been dreaming about just weeks before, and even had a shared terrace on the roof of the building, with a breathtaking view of the entire uninterrupted city skyline. I knew it then, but then I'd known it from the moment I stepped into the grand red-brick hallway. 

"I'm meant to do this." I breathed quietly over the sunset city, Tom looking on with the humble grin of a proud father behind me.

This was what living in New York City was about.

What ensued was a wild chase across the city to sort out the funds and transfer the deposit before the other people viewing the house had the chance to, and finally, in the space of one day, I had found, contacted, arranged, visited and fallen in love with the place, and before sundown I'd sent over the deposit, made the financial plans and secured my very own residence.

I tell you what, if as a teenager I was told that I'd be renting my very own apartment in Brooklyn, New York City, before the age of 23, I never, ever would've believed it.

But from the start of August, I'll no longer be living on a boat, and that's exactly what I will be doing.