Longing, belonging

This is my final post about my New York vacation; the mandatory one full of reflection and musings about life & love and things.

This was my first trip to NYC and that in itself made me really uncomfortable. As soon as I booked the ticket I started to worry: What if people are really mean in New York? What if I don’t dress well enough? What if I’m not considered as pretty as I am in Chicago? Real talk, guys, and UGH HONESTY. Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the vainest one of all?

The thing that worried me the most was the overwhelm factor. I’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with frustrating external stimuli, but even so it’s not hard to send me into a tailspin. Take an unfamiliar space, throw in a large crowd, add lots of noise and lights and things competing for my attention and you can easily end up with an Alle on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And the one thing I’d heard from people, especially those from my hometown, was that New York is completely and totally overwhelming. It’s louder than loud, there are so many people and there’s so much to see and do that you can hardly take it all in. I was scared that I’d spend the week on sensory overload, hiding in a darkened room under a blanket.

But I didn’t.

Remember how I was suffering from a case of the big city blues? It turns out that the best cure for that was going to an even BIGGER city. After making my way through Midtown at all hours, the busiest streets of Chicago seem positively lazy in comparison. Instead of feeling stressed by all of the people, I was energised. I took in the constant racket, rather than going to giant headphone-lengths to keep it out. And while I was a bit depressed by the neverending rainbow of neon advertising, eventually I stopped overanalysing it; I unfocused my eyes and just looked at the pretty colours.

I liked the people in New York. I was lucky enough to hang out with a couple of people that I already knew, as well as meet some people that I didn’t. I went to a party in the East Village and was immediately crowned Queen of the Queens. I was pleased to find that even in Williamsburg, home of the very coolest kids, my style was still A-grade. What I was happy about, in short, was that I still occupied the same social niche as I do in Chicago.

And then I wondered if I could live there. New York for a week was exhilarating. But I can also see New York for a lifetime being exhausting. I suppose it all comes down to the life that I really want to have in the end, a subject which has me so torn that I really don’t know how I’m ever going to make a choice.

On one hand, I have my fabulous life. I have a life where I’m invited to the coolest events with the coolest people and I wear great clothes and everyone wants to talk to me. I’m always having fun, and part of me wants to keep having these crazy, wild adventures forever. But I’d have to accept that if I kept living this fabulous life, it’ll always be focused on me. Not really much room left for any significant romantic relationships or even many friendships. Part of me doesn’t think that would be so bad, but that’s also the part of me that doesn’t want to love anything, ever, because it hurts so much when you lose it.

On the other hand, I have a future that seems almost unbelievable. I could choose to have a quiet life. I could settle down, dedicate myself to my writing, live a normal life (with a normal sleep schedule). I could find a good man who loves me. I could feel secure. I could have friends who really care about me. I could give up the crazy adventures and have quieter ones instead. In short, I could try to be happy. But what if that isn’t enough? What if I set down roots in a normal life and realise that I hate it? Does it mean that the story ends? What if the price of being happy is being…ordinary?

My fabulous life is lived in Chicago, and I’m sure it would also be lived in New York. My quiet life…for some reason, I’ve always imagined that happening in Perth. I’ve always thought that once I’m relaxed and grown up, I’d go back to my little hometown and settle down near the people that I’ve loved the longest. How would I ever do that if I moved in New York, a city where you can have a tuna steak and a Starbucks delivered to your house at three in the morning? There aren’t even any Starbucks in Perth! I’m sure that it would be an adjustment period, moving permanently to Perth after living in Chicago. I’m not sure I’d even be able to adjust if I’d been in New York for any significant period of time.

I just don’t know what kind of life I want to lead. Most days I wish for love and belonging and all that stuff, but then I go out and the sense of being the center of attention is intoxicating. I can’t lie; I love that shit. In New York, it was like that all the time. I was stopped by seven street style bloggers in four days & photographed. I fit in perfectly. Nobody commented on my accent or remarked on my height or told me to eat a sandwich. I’ve never fit in anywhere, and the feeling of having found a place where I do was indescribable.

Not that I mind not quite fitting in Chicago. I like being an oddity. But if I’m an oddity in Chicago, I’m a freak of nature in Perth and that’s not always a good thing. My friends have been exposed to my weirdness for years, so they know that yeah, sometimes Alle wears strange things and does odd stuff. The general population considers me so peculiar that I practically belong in a zoo. It doesn’t bother me, being strange; I just don’t like people being mean to me because of it.

My Dad once told me that I was both lucky and unlucky, being a child of two countries: I was unlucky because I’d always feel torn in half, always missing something or someone. But I was lucky, too, because I’d always know that I could stand that pain. I’d always know exactly how strong I am.

I don’t know what I’m going to or how I’m going to live my life or where I’m going to be. I don’t know if I’ll love the choices that I make forever. I guess that’s the thing about choices, though: if you screw them up, you can always make another one. It’s just that the stakes seem so much higher now.

Loves you.


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