To this day, I’m still trying to understand how I ended up in New England.
You’d think that I’d be comfortable with the wintery months after growing up in New York, but that’s simply not the case. Most of my decisions to leave and/or settle some place new have been inspired by my desire to exist in places with constant warmth and sunshine. I want to wake up in an oversized t-shirt without immediately dreading the brisk air on the other side of my blankets. The comfort of being in a hammock on a sunny porch is something I yearn for every day when living in the throes of seasonal depression.
As I begin every cold, wintery day with my hands around my mug of coffee, my imagination wanders into daydreams about leaving the northeast. Watching winter roll in feels like a betrayal, but I’ve also learned to forgive the New England climate during the summer months. Maybe I need climates like this to reinforce the idea that love isn’t supposed to be easy all the time. As much as I dread the months where snow-in-the-boot is a constant risk, I still choose to live here because of my love for the life I’ve created here in Boston.
There is a constant theme found in all the relationships I’ve been in throughout my 20s. They are all full of intimacy and affection, but the intensity is always short-lived. I can go months without dating another person for the sake of “working on myself” but it feels like the more comfortable I am in my own body, the less likely I am to stay. I’ve learned how to love myself, and I’ve also learned how to stand up for myself. These are all skills I needed to learn, but it also led to an extreme anxiety about letting others into my life for longer than a couple of weeks. I’m always writing about how this is a result of an inescapable feeling of toxicity about myself, and although that still has truth, its also a result of being absolutely terrified of the risk that comes along with love and commitment. My inability to comfortably commit to another person has been the thread connecting them all.
In my first blog post, I wrote about how my desire for travel is inspired by the comfort of falling in love with physical spaces rather than the precarious nature of other humans. This is true, but I don’t think I ever fully allowed myself to fall in love with a city either. I’ve jumped around the globe so many times that it’s simply impossible to imagine I ever had the time to love any of them. Maybe that transient fire raging beneath me reflected the same issues I had with interpersonal relationships. My love for cities has been short and intense. I’d arrive with my backpack but I never allowed myself to unpack the little amount of belongings I chose to carry.
My curiosity about foreign places has always been more than simply checking places off my ever-changing bucket list. One of the common misconceptions about being transient is that somewhere along the way, you’ll stumble upon yourself, as if “yourself” is one of the hidden natural wonders of the world. I wholeheartedly believe that every person is a natural wonder, but I disagree that physical travel is essential for us to acknowledge that. I learned a lot about myself during those transient years and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities that I had. However, the things that I learned never aligned with my reality whenever I returned home, wherever that happened to be.
I used to go to new places for the sake of connecting with the people who lived there. I became obsessed with the constant stream of new friends and faces because it reflected the instability of my own relationships back at home. I was able to be the mysterious stranger that never gave you full, honest answers. Why am I here at this train station on the other side of the globe? I can tell you with full honesty that it wasn’t because I wanted to “satisfy my wanderlust.” It’s because no one knew me and I could go wherever I wanted without anyone knowing who I am or where I’m going.
Now that I’ve settled into the idea of permanence (relatively speaking) I’m trying really hard to be a good friend because I know I haven’t always been. I often think about the people I’ve either lost or drifted away from over the past three years. We don’t often talk about friendship break-ups, or how complicated they can be since they differ in the kind of love and intimacy found in romantic relationships. There’s a common belief that it takes half of the entire duration of time spent together to actually get over a break-up. Like if you spent two years with someone, you should expect to spend at least a full year working on getting over them. Strict timelines and human emotion are two very conflicting things, so it’s impossible to think of this as a reliable system.
However, having a collective agreement on an emotional timeline might inspire something to look forward to? Break-ups hurt, so believing that memories of the person you dated for a year will fade after 6 months makes the messy emotions seem less permanent. Applying this to friendship break-ups are even more messy because it’s nearly impossible to measure the length of a friendship. Does the timeline start on the day you met, or when you were finally included in a group chat, or the day you opened up about that one defining memory? I don’t think anyone has an answer for this either. I’ve met countless people that I shared deep, intimate moments with, even if they were short in comparison to childhood friends or other long-term relationships. What if you spent years being acquaintances with someone before becoming closer? What is the time frame for that?
Whenever I found myself in an unfamiliar place, I fell in love with the side streets rather than the hustle and bustle of downtown areas. I fell in love with them because it mirrored my desire to fall in love with the small details of another person. I have an oddly specific memory for minor quirks. Maybe the side streets of these cities reminded me of the areas of myself I kept hidden even though all I wanted was to share them with those around me. Maybe falling in love with side streets was an attempt at treading into the uncharted territory of my own body. At some point over the past three years, I’ve become more comfortable exploring my own side streets because I want to continue exploring the side streets of other humans. I’ve learned to welcome the unfamiliar, uptick of visitors that express curiosity, even though it still scares the life out of me. I don’t really know what inspired this post, and I don’t have any ideas for how to end it. Writing a conclusion isn’t possible because I don’t have the words just yet.