When I began this journey, it seemed like one of those things that was so far off that it might never even happen. There were so many layers of approval to be signed off, stacks of paperwork to be completed, and plans to be made that it was easy to think of ‘relocating my entire life to New York City’ as some abstract idea. This concept held even as the day of departure grew ever closer. Somehow, it was ‘just something I was doing’ rather than a seismic shift in the wonky tectonic plates of my life.
Finally, after nine months of waiting, wondering, speculation and admiration from others for this huge change I was undertaking, the day came and away I flew. Almost three months later – nearly a year to the day I asked about the concept of moving to America – my friends and family back home have asked with excitement-tinged voices “So, how is it living in New York??”
My answer is always a resounding “….eh.” It’s only when chatting to my parents last weekend that I realized why. The Big Adventure was never ‘moving to New York’, and it’s taken me a while to realize that.
Most people making this transition will move over on their own, to live by themselves or cohabit with housemates. They might be in Brooklyn, Long Island City, or even somewhere on Manhattan itself. They’ll ride the subway, walk the streets of the Big Apple, fall in and out of trendy bars and mingle with the heaving mass of tourists under the blinding lights of Times Square.
Others will move with family. They’ll find a place further outside the city where the schools are good; a nice house with a yard for the kids to play in when the weather is good, space for two cars. They’ll go through the trials and tribulations of new jobs together. Fitting in, blending in, settling down, figuring it out. They’ll laugh and cry at the experiences together as they strive to find the equilibrium of having moved a happy family life across the ocean.
My big adventure wasn’t that I was coming to New York to ‘work all day and party all night’, to live in the thick of it. It wasn’t that I was resettling my family on a new continent.
My big adventure was moving in with a woman that I loved, but with whom I had never spent more than a week with. It was setting up a home from scratch in an alien country, with somebody who had never lived away from home as a fully independent adult before. I would be living with not just her, but her dog too; I hadn’t looked after a dog since my family’s abortive attempt at looking after a little rat-like thing before I’d even hit puberty (the dog ended up living a happy life with my Nan).
That alone was enough, let alone starting a new job.
I’ve been feeling like I’m selling out ‘Ed’s American Dream’ because all we could talk about before I left was how amazing it would be to ‘be in New York’, the assumption from everyone being that I would be a perpetual tourist.
But what have I done since moving here? Other than one night in the city when my old boss came into town, as you’ve seen from my prior posts the answer is ‘very little’, other than the immense project of setting up a home from scratch.
That was the big adventure all along. The city and the country is just incidental. It’s just taken me a while to realize it.