2.29.2008

Fortress of Solitude

It seems like every time I blink my eyes around here, it's a new weekend. Don't get me wrong; I like feeling like I have time to breathe lately, I like that I'm relaxing on the couch with some Friday night nachos and white wine, vaguely watching Scrubs. But I've been having this feeling lately, this mopey cloud hanging around. And the thing is, I recognize it and know it well because it comes with me every time I move my life somewhere new. It's a special blend of loneliness and boredom, with a pinch of grass-is-greener and it sets in just as the excitement of the new place wears off.

When I think back to my life in Paris last year, I realize how absolutely spoiled I was. I spent weekend upon weekend with friends, particularly the second half of the year. I could have paid rent to the Parisian Parks and Bridges departments, I spent so much time there with friends. I miss Maddy so much when spontaneous things come up here in New York; I miss having a sidekick who's game for anything and everything. I got an email from the Obama campaign the other day, asking people to take a road trip to Rhode Island for the weekend to help get the word out to voters there. My first instinct was to say "YEP, THAT'S AWESOME, I'M THERE," and then I reached for my phone and realized that I didn't have anyone to call.

I don't want this to sound judge-y, because I don't mean it to be, but it is hard to be spontaneous with New Yorkers. In a country filled with Blackberrys and planners, I'm hard-pressed to find a free-as-a-bird Maddy or Katie or Stephanie.

And then I wonder if part of this isn't the fact that we were living out of our element and had jobs that didn't demand too much of us. Perhaps there is some truth to the fact that living in your home country brings loads of other obligations, both tangible and mental. I find people here so over-worked that, by the end of the week, it seems like the whole city needs to simultaneously melt onto their couches like zombies.

All the same, I have to believe that there are people like me in a city of 8 million others. (If that isn't that the most popular statement about New York...). The other night I went to Yoga in Manhattan and decided to walk home to Brooklyn. It was a long and chilly walk and there were only about 10 people on the bridge the whole time I was walking over it. But you kind of knew that those other people, walking on the Brooklyn Bridge in 25degree weather at 10pm on a Wednesday night, well, those had to be some pretty great people.

I was talking about this phenomenon to someone on the train this morning. I mentioned how I found it so much harder to meet people here in New York than in Paris, and that I attributed this to the fact that being a foreigner gave me an easy ice-breaker at any moment. My "otherness" made me more successful in fitting in in a foreign place than it obviously would at home.

"You're like Superman with his Kryptonite," my train-mate pointed out. "It only makes him strong when he's away from his planet."

Which is a great point, but in the end, Superman still hangs out in the Fortress of Solitude.

4 comments:

Nick said...

Crap...I forgot about the Fortress of Solitude... There's always a catch I suppose.

Spontaneity is a dying breed. Which is why most people probably drink themselves into oblivion, or worse, on the weekends. To sort of forcefully synthesize some spontaneous reaction. I grew up in New York and completely agree that you just don't find as much of spontaneity in it's natural form. Unless you make friends with some fun kids from the mid west. Gotta keep your eyes open for those Kryptonians, and ride their waves.

Thanks for the good conversation in the midst of such a dreary morning.

-Nick

Jen said...

Nick- drop me an email? feastoflove@gmail.com

Erica said...

the person on the train was wrong. kryptonite has DETRIMENTAL effects on Superman.

Wikipedia entry about kryptonite

sorry to hear you've been feeling solitary, but i understand.

Leigh said...

Um, I would have gone on an Obama Roadtrip...