I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I disembarked at JFK, a brand new transplant in NYC. I’d left behind the seedlings of a new life in L.A. a mere five years earlier, arriving fresh-faced from London. Those tiny kernels, planted in the omnipresent sunshine, had yet to sprout roots before the East Coast beckoned my name.
My workplace was closing its California office and I found myself schlepping eastwards to the Head Office, dragging my reluctant long-term boyfriend from the clutches of his beloved Los Angeles.
We navigated the rental market with trepidation, cognizant of horror stories of sociopathic brokers and rat infested hovels. We unpacked our belongings, slowly adjusting to the barbie-sized apartment with closets seemingly only able to contain barbie’s intimate apparel.
We began to carve out a new life in this inimitable city. We planted new seeds.
The fairytale didn't last long.
My love affair with the city started to blossom, growing in intimacy as I uncovered it’s peculiar habits and it’s insidiously smelly parts. Yet my boyfriend’s experience began to resemble the aftermaths of a one-night stand. Regret and remorse eroded any remnants of his former desire for the city.
I loved the feeling of freedom the subway provided; how it transported me through the arteries of the city to neighborhoods unknown with the swipe of my MetroCard. He missed his car.
I loved the never-ending rotation of restaurants that could satisfy the most adventurous of palates at any hour. He missed his local bar.
I welcomed the extremities of the changing seasons, relishing my new winter wardrobe. He refused to leave the apartment when the mercury dropped below zero.
I embraced my new beginnings with abandon, attending writing courses and networking events seeking out like-minded people to befriend. He perused FaceBook and yearned for his West Coast buddies.
Time passed. My seeds germinated, growing tiny roots but roots nonetheless. My boyfriend abandoned his and sank into a depressive state.
What started out as a dream slowly morphed into a nightmare. An ever-widening chasm opened between us, splitting us further apart until the only way we could communicate was by screaming at each other. Apparently the only joint trait we had emulated from NYC.
After what felt like the 800th fight over “this fucking city” we broke for good. I chose NYC. He chose L.A.
And in the blink of an eye, I got to experience yet another side of the city I’d never been exposed to. Single life.
It’s been six years since I stepped off that plane. Some dreams have materialized; others vanished into the thrumming sidewalk air. I’ve carved out a life for myself and the city has been with me every step of the way. It has forced me to my knees at times but it has also shown me how to get back up.
My experience taught me that in life, nothing turns out the way we expect it to. That expectations are simply that, expectations. And the greater they are, the larger margin for disappointment to come creeping in. I’m not advocating that every risk taken in life won’t turn out the way it was planned, but it is of vital importance to remain unattached to the final outcome, however it manifests itself.
For when we make our demands on life, how it should be, what it should look like, how long it will take, this is in essence control energy. We are trying to control the outcome instead of rolling with the outcome.
And here’s the funny thing about final outcomes, whether we love them or hate them, they are always for our greatest good, even if we can’t see it at the time. They teach us something that we would never have learned if we simply got what we wanted.
Had I been gifted the life of my dreams upon arriving in NYC I would have learned nothing about struggle and how the darkest times illustrated just exactly how much inner strength I was in possession of.
And most importantly I would have learned nothing about love; I would never have learned that despite all our best efforts, love is effusive and it is not always designed to last in certain relationships. Learning that relationships are one of our biggest teachers in life and sometimes it isn’t about making it work but simply having the courage to know when to walk away for good.
Attempting anything new in life is scary because we are ultimately taking a risk. Sometimes things won’t turn out the way we dreamed they would, but they will always turn out the way that they were meant to. As Joseph Campbell once said “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”