With the first semester of grad school under my belt, I’m back in Maryland for the long winter break. It’s a markedly different pace down in Calvert County versus NYC.
Living in New York City was a fantasy of mine, just like I’m sure it’s most other people’s. If I didn’t live in the city, I had grand ideas of making it a go-to destination, where I’d take fleeting vacations for a weekend or two on a whim.
Reality: I visited the city once, five, six or seven years ago, for a weekend. I did a lot of walking around Broadway, Central Park, and Battery Park. Now, I live in Brooklyn and go to grad school in Manhattan. It’s kind of unreal.
The first four months of living in NYC have been an interesting one. Sometimes I still wake up and can’t believe that I’m there. In New York City. Most days, the grandeur of Big Apple is non existent. But don’t misread that as the city is starting to bore me. It’s not quite like that at all.
Most of my time is spent in Bushwick and the Union Square/Washington Square Park area, but even within these confined perimeters, I’ve found my own “Adventure Time” moments. Union Square is always a hoot. And each walk up one street and down another avenue offers something new to find and ridiculous to see. Even the streets I walk regularly, day in and day out offer something unique on a daily basis. (Like increased police presence in Union Square.)
I’m not a writer, or an artist, or a movie star waiting to be found. My reasons for wanting to live and go to NYC isn’t anything fancy. It’s really the cosmopolitanness of it all. It also reminds me of home—Japan.
I thought the city would be a dizzying, complex, anxiety-inducing experience. On the contrary though, it’s been anything but those things. I feel at ease, walking in the hustle and bustle of bodies. You quickly learn to be aggressive in your walking, learn to just go in the direction your facing and don’t stop or slow down. Find holes to move into if a stop is necessary. All eyes appear to be on you, but really, no one is actually eyeing you. Except maybe Big Brother. The subway system has its quirks but it isn’t maddening. Getting lost is not a real thing. Getting lost is part of the adventure.
I find myself sometimes getting sucked into my old habits of the self-isolating bubble, but the city is slowly breaking me of that. It’s New York City. There’s way too much going on to miss out on every single thing happening in the city. Really, I have no excuse.
The first four months have a somewhat quiet and interesting experience. I’m not ready to jump ship just yet, but I can’t help but wonder if the city will get old to me. It’s been a nice lesson in “get out the door and explore your damn city.” These first few months have also been a good gauge of balance.
While this first semester of grad school hasn’t been too time consuming, here’s to another semester of balancing life and finding my rhythm.
Another change I will have to rededicate myself too is the bike life. Much to my own disappointment, I have not been true to my own grand vision of “biking everywhere.” Going from biking on the Capital Crescent Trail every day between Silver Spring and Bethesda, to hadly biking to and from classes is a major disappointment. It breaks my heart to know my bike hangs idly in the apartment building basement while I take the train to and from Manhattan instead of my bike. If a bike could cry, mine is drowning in its tears.
Here’s hoping to a better NYC experience in the coming year (and more posts about anything, including the grad school life).
Happy holidays everyone.