I knew that coming home would give me a sense of relief. An overwhelming, catch your breath, gut punch sense of relief. A high five, dancing in a field, get on your knees and thank a higher entity sense of relief. Relief in capital letters: RELIEF. I'd been living in New York City for the past five years and even though it's a spectacular city filled with some amazing people, it just never felt like home. I'd step outside my warehouse and instantly feel as if the oxygen in the air had just been reduced to dangerous levels. As if I couldn't take a full, natural breath. And it wasn't just because of the bums who would piss, vomit, leave used condoms, and shit behind the dumpster near the front door. I can only think to describe it in a way that might sound hippy dippy, but here we go: the natural rhythm of me, my body and my emotions and my spirit, were completely out of sync with the natural rhythm of New York City. And during the entire five years that I lived there, my rhythm and the rhythm of the city were in constant battle. It was never harmonious for me. Sure, I had fleeting moments where I would feel a surge of connection. But random, blink and you'll miss them moments don't amount to much after years and years of frustration and isolation. Since I've been back and trying to describe it to people, I've been asked quite a few times why I stayed for so long. You'd think I would have high tailed it outta there after a year or two. Part of the reason was for love since my partner wasn't ready to go yet, part of the reason is because eventually, your mind and your body will begin to try to adapt to any fucked up situation you put it in. Part of it was wondering what was my problem...why didn't I love this vibrant, roller coaster, fun filled, energy filled, zooming, everything at your fingertips kind of city? The expectation was that I would love New York. And I didn't. I hate New York. I would suggest to anyone on this planet to go and visit NYC. Spend a week or two running around and seeing everything it has to offer. Go shopping and to museums and parks and to all the tourist places and have a blast. If my time in New York had only been visits, then I would have loved being there too.
Luckily, I was able to create pockets of happiness that helped to sustain me. I have a neon green beach cruiser and I would ride my bike 45 minutes to work and then 45 minutes home and I loved that trip. Sometimes, with all the fucked up taxi drivers and the high speed delivery trucks and unexpected tourists and pedestrians popping out right in front of you, it felt like I was riding through a video game where I was the target. But there would always be that glorious moment where I'd get to the top of the Williamsburg Bridge without getting jumped for my bike and I'd feel a moment of happiness. I was also in a kickboxing class for a couple of years and that was great. And when I say class, I don't mean some aerobic, ladies in tights doing tae bo pretty gym type class. The place was a hole in the wall with broken mirrors all over and the floor covered in a mat that reeked of old sweat and hundreds of dirty feet and the heavy bags hung from the ceiling with duct tape and were pieced together like some kind of puzzle. The whole place was falling apart and with no heat in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer, it was a pretty intense physical experience. I remember quite a few times of working out till I was almost vomiting. And then a few times, Freddy from the hardcore band Madball showed up for classes and I was surprised cuz I couldn't imagine that the guy needed any instructions on how to fight. Maybe he just wanted to learn how to use his feet as weapons too. But once I got my dog Norton, I didn't think it was fair to be working 40 hours a week and then running off at night to kickboxing classes and leave the pup at home so I stopped taking my classes and tried to do it at home. Not quite the same experience.
I also had a pretty good job at a health food store where sometimes, I felt as if it was the only place I belonged. I worked there the whole time I was in New York and it drove me nuts at times, but overall it was an amazing and really different place to work. The whole store was owned by a swami and there was a yoga institute upstairs so that provided a lot of leeway and acceptance. I could show up with piercings, tattoos, and dressed in any way I wanted (within reason, of course) and I would get teased, but my job was never threatened. My boss was someone I could talk to about personal stuff and we'd order Indian food to be delivered and pig out in the office or sneak out in the middle of a shift and go see a movie. He was still my boss, but also my friend.
And let's not forget the unturkey club sandwich at Kate's Joint. I think the unturkey club sandwich is one of the only things I miss about New York.
I left New York City on November 1st and I've been back in the bay area ever since. I have to be honest and tell you that comin' home hasn't been easy. I've had some disappointments and some hardships and difficult decisions to make, but any negative aspects about being home are so completely overwhelmed by all of the positive. To be around my Mother and my best friend Wendy has been mind blowing. To run around shopping with my friend Leslie and drive in her car listening to Minor Threat makes me so happy. To have friends and social events that I'm excited to go to makes me feel ecstatic. And to feel as if I can breath again. That when I step outside the door, my body and my emotions and my spirit are all back in sync with the rhythm that is the bay area. It may not be perfect in the bay area, but it is my home. And I'm so glad to be back.