From the city and beyond

Rice on the beach | Photo by Janelle

Summer is flying.

I just got back from an extended weekend at Myrtle Beach with 15 other nutty (current and former) Richmonders. I hadn’t seen most of them in a good while, and it’s nice we can meet up somewhere to wreak havoc.

I’d intended to take pictures and even lugged my digital SLR along (which eventually caused a minor delay on my way back when Myrtle security was at a loss for what this was. Hint: it rhymes with slattery). But the few times the camera left the bag were at airport checkpoints. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel like documenting. It likely was the only time I went on vacation and seriously kicked back, soaked it all in and let my mind wander. I read about Bourdain’s culinary indiscretions, allowed the waves to mercilessly batter me and the boogie board, and let the sun coat my skin a slightly darker hue.

It was a welcome break from here. New York has a way of beating you up and making you think you want to move to a remote island or mountain or scenic hideaway, somewhere that doesn’t throw at you the day-to-day nonsense the city all too readily provides. But then you get away from it all, you get to what you think is your nice, happy place only to realize your nice, happy place is the one you so desperately wanted to leave behind. It just takes a bit of distance to fully appreciate that.

What keeps me sane is I’m surrounded by amazing people. From around the city, outside the city, on the other coast or a bus ride away. The last few weeks I’ve been hit by a wedding bouquet on a mission, lost my voice — multiple times — at karaoke, ridden in a crumbling limo, danced the night away with a chili pepper bouquet, laughed so hard my stomach hurt, gazed at fireworks on the beach, routinely ate quite possibly the best pizza ever to be consumed on a stoop, and we all know about that bike thing. Moments like that I wish could last forever. But alas, all great chapters come to an end. Summer is winding down; soon the leaves will fall. And one of my very favorite people has left for more mountainous pastures.

The city once again is changed.

The Epilogue

This is the epilogue of a series of posts on San Francisco. Find the others here.

Though brief, my San Francisco adventure reminded me why I love travel. It sharpens the senses and forces you to confront pieces of yourself that surface only in the unfamiliar. It also forces you to look at the you you’ve left behind at home.

This trip made me question some things.

Mainly, my second year in New York couldn’t be more different from the first. The first was full of exploration, curiosity, the new. My second has had a bit of that, but along with it the realization that change is the city’s only constant. This I knew before but hadn’t yet seen.

Time moves quickly here, and so do lives. Things fade into the background as priorities shift. People you’ve grown quite attached to leave as easily as they arrive. Even restaurants are unreliable. I remember eating at my new favorite noodle spot one night and returning the next day to find it had shuttered.

I’ve always thought myself comfortable with change. If life were like the Girl Scouts, I’d wear a badge of mobility on my sash. I can adapt to most things, I’d say, pointing out where I spent chunks and snippets of my life.

But change can also harden you. Perhaps it’s why people here are so tough to get to know. They’re all too familiar with transience, that being here today doesn’t mean you’ll be here tomorrow. Everyone has a guard up, a wall only the worthy can breach.

The only way to cope is to let the city change you, too.

Living here has made me braver, stronger and wiser, but it has also drained me. Now that I can call this home without the term conjuring images of a different place, I’m ready to see what else is out there.

If only for a little while.