I am 26 days fresh in New York City. Already recovered from the lower back strains of poorly lifting a 65 lb. military trunk, I’m finding real comfort in the room that houses my first purchased mattress and this neighborhood that seems to defy the modern-day NYC paradigms. As enjoyable as this month-long transition has been – and as dedicated as I am to making this city mine – I still feel in transit, and this feeling seems potentially eternal.
The Undetermined Layover
In my continued efforts to define (or redefine) “travel” as a state of mind rather than a displacement of the body, I’m approaching this new life with the fervor of a new backpacker. Instead of riddling off various dictionary definitions of “home” or claiming that my apartment is my new personal oasis, I’ll clarify that even though I’m purchasing beds, tables, and sofas, I’m merely making this place part of the overall journey, like a very extended layover.
My friends from high school, college, and beyond all seemed to settle themselves immediate after graduation while I continued galavanting (and therefore constantly reevaluating my choice to differ). Though I regularly admired their comfortable set ups and opportunities to develop real and wonderful friendships in one place, for me one location felt risky. I’m fickle, indecisive, and a classic over-thinker – three traits that made me fearful of signing a lease anywhere.
Due to my penny-pinching tendencies, New York City never seemed like a feasible option; however, I’m now floored by the realization that this hub offers me everything I want in a home base and nothing of which I am fearful. Though the space between my family and friends is a little daunting, Skype makes it possible for me to do apartment tours for my mom and beat box for my niece’s bouncing knees, thus eliminating the one need pulling me back to Indiana.
Years of semi-nomadic tendencies insist upon existential analysis when the shift is made to stability. I feel in shock. It’s been too easy, and the concept of relocation has felt too light in relation to my expectations. I haven’t had a bad day yet. Am I doing something wrong? Is the access offered by this job making life easier than I think it’s supposed to be? Am I not feeling the gravity of this change because I’m always in preparation for the next assignment? Am I finding this sense of ‘happiness’ a threat to my curious feet?
Nesting with Nothing
I’m a scrape-the-bowl-clean kind of person. Yes, this term applies to my baking tendencies, but I say this today in context of my earthly possessions. I’ve purged my closet more times than I have shopped in the last four years, leaving me with only what I deem necessary and sentimental. And when it came time to pack for a new city, I filled four boxes with my patchwork life, regardless of worth or the ease of buying things here instead.
The thought of owning something superfluous aggravates me, and I also find it really fulfilling to bring together all the pieces of my former “lives” to create the comforting foundation of my present. And so, on November 15th, I unpacked my boxes of relatively cheap and mismatched stuff, feeling relieved to bring these pieces a purpose and some unity.
Comfort is only just now factoring into my daily decisions, and style is gaining more say than it used to versus practicality. Nevertheless, my decor and possessions all scream “random” and “MacGyver,” as did the contents of my backpack on my Big Journey. My bedroom has the color palette of a cheap hamburger. I’m using my brother’s trunk from military school for storage-slash-furniture. If someone were to describe my decorating sense, it would be one part 70s, one part Asian, and altogether ambiguous.
But I don’t care. It’s warm, clean, and nuzzled into the cleavage of an amazing neighborhood that seems frozen still next to time lapsing neighbors. And even though I plan to be in New York City for a good chunk of time, I have no desire to apply a universal theme that has no history with me. I have no universal aesthetic to my possessions, just as I have no set location for my existence – regardless of where I’m experiencing ‘happy.’
Which Are Important Thoughts?
While I know some would easily question my determination to be suspicious of my New York happiness thus far, I rationalize these thoughts as often-overlooked growing points, morsels of mind in need of magnifying for the mapping of my progress on Earth. Just as travel time creates a platform for introspection, so my eternal nomadic mentality calls for analysis on what is present in my mind and what is oddly not.
I figure to be travel-obsessed is to be unable to part with its side effects. Therefore, I wonder why I’m liking a steady existence after one month – and not only that but experiencing a seamless transition from the vastly different suburbia. I wonder why I’m so excited to purchase things like kitchen chairs and sit in a living room furnished with my assistance when my mind still feels easily transplantable. And I wonder why New York City also isn’t giving me the sense that I’m unwelcome but does pleasantly offer the ability to journey with ease.
In all this jumble, which words should be highlighted? Which thoughts are important? I’m going to settle on the words that cradle some form of ‘happy.’