It's my final morning in New York, and this city and I have had...our ups and downs. Some, including me, question my sanity returning to this place, given that every time I come here by the time it's time for me to get on that plane I'm practically screaming, 'Get me out of here!' Usually followed by the words, 'I'm done. I have no reason to ever come back...there's nothing for me here...' It's like a seriously bad relationship that you just can't let go of. Obviously though, I make my return in the vain hopes that something will be different this time. In a way, it's a way of testing myself to show that I haven't quite had the optimist kicked out of me. There's a sado-massichist in all of us, somewhere.
This year I decided I was up for the challenge again. My friend wanted a vacation, I said, 'Sure! Let's go!' Our destination: New York City. Bugger. Less than a year before I'd decided that, once again, I was done with that city. It had let me down too much for me to even contemplate a return. I had been other places where I had felt more welcome by people who had just met me than people I had known for years and who I would never expect to disappoint me as much as they had. However, I was different now. Coming out of my favourite year and deciding that being happy is a choice (okay, that revelation took me a while) I decided, New York and I deserved another shot.
Fast forward a few months and there I was, back on the plane and trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. I had no reason to go back, I've pretty much done everything I wanted to do and seen everything there is to see. There had to be a reason, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. So when asked I said it was because my friend needed a vacation, and when a friend asks - well, who am I to say no? This way of thinking gets me into trouble sometimes.
The city was as I remembered it, a too familiar friend that you're dangerously comfortable with. So much so that if given the opportunity, it would take full advantage and you wouldn't even see it coming. From the start, none of us felt like we'd actually gone anywhere, we were just taking a few days away from the jobs. I think having an internet connection in the room and the fact that we were always contactable and constantly connected made it difficult to feel we'd gotten away. That can be the best of things sometimes, coz sure as night follows day, as much as others tried and as much as I tried, things were set in place and I started to feel that old familiar feeling come on.
The details aren't necessary. A "friend", the " " are not just for anonymity but also because I don't think I can honestly call them that anymore, although everyone's come up with a rather more...I would say accurate term, let me down in the most spectacular of ways. It wasn't just their actions that I was appalled at - I should've known better, it was my own that hurt the most. I let down a friend, a good friend, in order to accommodate this person even though in the back of my mind I knew how it would end up. Inevitably it did, and the resulting backlash threatened to - once again, ruin any of the smiles that had come before, and there had been some. There had been many.
I was in the foulest of moods. I was in my head far too much and even the *HUGS* I was getting from my friends - coz, I tend not to suffer in silence anymore, weren't helping. I know things are bad when a hug doesn't sort it out. I could deal with that though, I'd done it before. What hurt more was that whenever my friends would see that I wasn't smiling, they'd get mad. Not at me, never at me, but at the situation, and the "friend" - very mad at them, and they couldn't believe how I let myself get in that far. We all knew that had the situation involved any one of them or anyone at home, I'd be the first in there with an opinion, and it'd be the right one. What they did find amusing was my choice in therapy - the retail kind and there may have been a drink involved in there too, I was acting out of character in every possible way.
I couldn't stay mad at the city though. I have been around too long to know that those kind of feelings will consume you faster than you could imagine if you let them. So instead, I walked - I walked a lot. I tried to think about the ways I hadn't been let down here. Friends, no " " needed, who had made time to see us, even though they had a million and one other things to do. Friends, who at the drop of the hat asked where I would be and came out after a hard day at the job, and had nothing but a smile and a hug waiting for me. There were people in this city who are worth a damn, and still I allowed them to be loomed over by someone who still couldn't admit that they were the villain of the piece. Most people don't like to be the bad guy, but when it's so blatantly obvious, just admit it and save everyone from the hassle.
Turns out though, the anger had its rewards, when you're pushed to the limit there's pretty much nothing you won't do. So, last full day in New York I decide to do something I would never normally do. But you know, I've been acting out of character so much - why the heck not? Before I came, I asked for a reason to fall back in love with this city. I so very much wanted one. I was given an answer by one of its inhabitants. I was told, 'New York asks and promises nothing. That is how it sets you free.' So that's what I did. I didn't ask for anything, I didn't promise anything, just a mere suggestion in the hope that some small gesture might make me smile again. Just once more in this city, I needed to smile. In return, I was most definitely set free.
New York came through in spectacular fashion. Indeed, I still find myself smiling the day after the night before. Not that quiet smile of contentment, although I'm sure that's what it will become - you simply can't sustain this smile indefinitely. I have joy in my heart. Genuine, damn I can't believe I am this blessed, over the moon, feel like I'm about to burst, joy. The smile that comes with that, it is rare for it to make any kind of appearance but for it to still be here 12hrs+ later? Unheard of. But if I looked in the mirror right now, I couldn't deny its existence.
A question was asked last night, 'How do you find people on the internet?' This question coming from someone I'd met in that exact way, posed to two people who had also met in that exact same way. Without social networking none of us would be sat around that table. The answer given, that in a space inhabited by billions, yes there are those who aren't quite right in the head, those who will take advantage, and those who are there for nothing but self-promotion, however, there are also those who are there simply to be themselves. When they are afforded no other avenue of self-expression a place where you are as anonymous as you choose to be is where you are able to show your true face. Sometimes, just sometimes, you stumble across someone amazing. Someone who will change the very way you look at the world.
To my right, someone who I've known for years. Who I very seldom talk to, but mostly because we have no need for words. From the start, kindred spirits. Not needing reason or explanation from each other, just to simply be in each other's presence enough. Before me, the person who offered the reason to fall back in love with their city. Someone new, who at the very last minute was apologising to me that they'd over-scheduled themselves when the very fact that they'd even called had brought back my smile. Someone I'd come to know in 140 character sentences sat across from me not realising the magnitude of that moment for me. Finally, here, in this city - I was surrounded by the very best of people, having the very best of times, and New York was everything I needed it to be. Because of the way I'd met these people, I was everything I needed to be too, I was me.
My friends (here and at home) are already talking up this night, and when I go home they won't let me forget it, because they're great like that. It might seem a little strange at first to those who don't understand, even perhaps to those two most responsible for last night, and it is hard to grasp how one night could come to mean so much. Simply, I think that it's because when I was at my lowest, I had people in my life who got angry at the situation for me because I didn't have the strength to, and because I also had people who, without any realisation that they were doing it, saved me. Last night reminded me, that when I'm my true self, the people who choose to, who actively want to be in my life, they are that rare breed of truly outstanding good people that you would be a fool to not keep.
I'm not sure if that makes any sense, perhaps one day I'll be able to articulate that better, but for now the smile, yes I'm still cheesing it big time, is hopefully enough.
I heart NY.