Most of what I post on this site will be excerpts or updates from pieces I’ve already written – impressions already created, to form a portfolio of past writings. But for my first post, I thought some context from the present would be more appropriate.
My name is Lucy, and I grew up in the middle of New Jersey, surrounded by trees and a warm and wonderful family, in a fairly idyllic home. When I left the country for college, it wasn’t to run away from what I had, but out of a certainty that I needed to find and see and learn more.
I can’t remember a time before I craved being somewhere else. I don’t know if that’s because my parents are travelers and the excitement of exploring new places was instilled from childhood, or because I spent most of my young life (and a fair amount of my current life) immersed in books, and that taste of living in other worlds made me want more.
Maybe it’s just something that can’t be explained, but that drive has probably been the single greatest force in my life. It’s pushed me past my naturally quite limited comfort zone, and worked in direct opposition to the introverted and homey parts of my nature that try to pull me towards a simple and quiet life in a small town by the sea. To be frank – while it’s led to amazing adventures and irreplaceable friendships – it’s been a pain in the ass.
I toured and applied to roughly a dozen schools before I flew to Scotland to visit St Andrews, and that first day walking around the seaside town, drinking tea next to students dressed in plaid, discussing philosophy, I completely fell in love. In the fall, I struggled to fit all of my possessions into one bag, moved to Fife, and never looked back. I had a magical four years there, making close friends for the first time in my life, traveling around Europe every time we had a few days off, learning to be independent and walking along the North Sea at night when I craved being alone. Many of the adventures I’ve had took place during this time, when it was more convenient and appealing to stay in Europe during my time off than to return to America.
When the reality hit that graduation meant losing not only that small and perfect world, but also the right to stay in the country where I had, for all intents and purposes, grown up, I spent one last summer backpacking around Europe and living on the Isle of Skye with my boyfriend at the time and his family and then took a very long and very memorable plane ride back to New Jersey. I had already been accepted to a 3 month internship in India, and spent a few months back home waitressing, making the money I needed to buy another plane ticket. I didn’t really think about the fact that I was going to India until I was packing again, I just knew that the nonprofit sounded unique and interesting, and that the location wasn’t in the US.
After four years of comfort, I was ready for a lifestyle challenge and a complete change of scenery, and nowhere could have provided that more so than India. To the rush of chaos that was Delhi, to the silent and anticipation-filled 12 hours on a bus into the mountains, arriving in the village of Naddi, I don’t know whether the exhaustion added to the surreality or dampened it. The next 15 weeks had hard-won moments of success and joy, surrounded by many frustrations and confusions. It was one of the most beautiful places in the world, but almost every minute was difficult. I’m incredibly grateful for my time there and there would be a huge hole in my life if my time in India wasn’t there any longer, but when I got home I was very ready to settle. To unpack a suitcase, and sleep in a real bed, to eat lettuce, and turn a tap to get hot water.
I thought that coming back to the States would be temporary, and I swore that the one thing I would never do (never, ever, ever) was move to NYC. I had always hated visiting the city; the intensity and sheer size of Manhattan gave me anxiety and made me an angrier version of myself, and I knew it was a place that sucked people in and was hesitant to let them go again. And yet…here I am. From helping a woman start a non-profit out of her apartment, to dogsitting for her while she traveled to Uganda, to taking on a part-time job in a field I had no interest in, to letting it become full-time and then realizing that it suddenly really mattered to me and that my co-workers had become as close as family, to lease-signings that keep whispering “just one more year”, I’ve turned into the thing I dreaded: a Jersey girl who becomes a ‘New Yorker’.
It’s actually been a wonderful two years. I’ve eaten at amazing restaurants, and regularly go to some of the best theatre in the world on a whim. I’ve made caring and fun friendships, and experienced the contentment that comes from having your own space, and a steady income, and a pleasant routine. It’s been exactly what I needed at the time, and gave me enough distance from my other lives to let me start over and move on. I love that I can walk and explore and try new things, all while having a home to come back to every night and being able to see my family for lunch or visit on weekends – in some ways, it’s taken the best parts of travel and combined them with being settled.
But now it’s been two years, and sometimes I feel like I need to leave so badly I can barely breathe. I’m ready for new challenges and new people, and to keep learning and pushing myself. I guess that’s why I’m starting this now – to in some way lay groundwork and to remind myself that it happened once and it can happen again.
To any of the readers who come across this: enjoy the memories and excuse the ramblings!