Travelling is useful for a boundless amount of reasons: it helps you discover new places, wonderful new people, new cultures, new foods and even a new life!
Just the same, travelling can also help you discover what isn’t for you.
This past week, I’ve been visiting one of the world’s top cities in one of the world’s greatest states, New York, USA, and I’ve never more in my life concretely justified that I can never and will never live in a place.
That’s a hard thing for me to say as I am a traveller at heart and a strong believer that there’s the good and the bad in every spot on this Earth. However – and I say this after deep consideration – this state (and country, for that matter) is not for me.
From the struggle to find a store that would trade dollar bills for quarters to get on the bus (because apparently change is really hard to come by for shop keepers) to the lingering smells and polluted sewer drains throughout the streets that made me sneeze at every intersection to the countless-hours search for a parking spot somewhat near your cousin’s house or spending an hour (or more) just getting onto the George Washington Bridge, being a tourist in New York state has been my life’s current greatest challenge.
No trip will be perfect, if there’s anything I’ve learned from all my recent travels. Yet, no matter what we tried to do to minimize issues, others always appeared. But that’s the beauty of travel, too: it continually puts you out of your comfort zone, out of normalcy, which makes you appreciate it even more.
Still, then came the thoughts of how others function in such a society. Entering a 5-lane-merging-from-all-directions highway which takes at least half an hour must increase one’s stress levels somewhat, and on a daily basis, this is probably not very healthy. To add to that, the long, continuous work hours and the every-man-for-himself mentality, people here must seem to take every day as a literal survival course. But then again, it matters how you look at it: coincidentally on my way home, I was reading a book given to me by a friend entitled, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by twentysomething author Alida Nugent, in which she described city-living in New York. One quote she mentions specifically stuck out:
“There is no open-armness about city life, no kind voices to tell you not to take a certain route at night or where to get the best sandwiches at 2 A.M. Instead, there is concrete. […] You become part of a big, uniformed fish school with no one destination but an underlying thought: keep going.” (p. 181)
Whether in New York or New Caledonia, keep going. Back at work after a week’s vacation, keep going. With all the ups and downs in life, keep going.
So, who is not to say that what I consider organized chaos another considers a comfortable routine? Like people and practices, some places take time to get used to, and New York is no exception. I will admit that even my home away from home was not an absolute haven at first glance. Time Square was bright (as expected), Central Park was right green (as ever) and Jamaica Avenue had deals I’ll never find again in my life. West Village has a piece of my heart and Wall Street, a bit of my change. Some of the people were not the nicest, but others sure put a smile on my face. The pace of the city keeps even the weakest in shape and all of these things are what make this place what it is.
It all depends on perspective, and this time around I saw all sides of the coin. I’ll visit New York again, but I’ll never live there, and that’s okay. To finish off with Nugent’s just ending: “I hope you find your ‘here’ someday. I hope you know you’re already there.”
À la prochaine,
Music of the Moment: