“Are you okay? You’ve seemed so sad for a while, are you sure you’re alright?”
“I’m fine, I promise,” I told my mother. I wasn’t lying, I told myself. Except I knew that telling myself that was exactly where the lie began.
It was Spring, and I was back home in Florida for the weekend. There I was, sitting on the patio with my mother. After living in New York City for a few years, I had forgotten what silence felt like — simply surrendering to what existed rather than to what was coming. So we sat there and let silence fill in space after I lied to my mother.
On that porch, I thought about how grateful I was to be taking a break from a city that acted like a lover stubbornly holding onto a bad relationship — in this case, that relationship had been Winter. So I was grateful to be sipping homemade coffee in a screened-in porch with a chorus of trees rustling in the wind.
It was 75 degrees, and I was home.
But “home” was also many places for me by then. In the stillness, I could sense how lost my soul felt as it tried to bond with a sun like a long-lost friend. I could sense that the air was heavy with memories just as much as it was light with longing. Still, the truth was that even though every version of “home” felt beautiful, none of them felt right.
My mother left the patio and left me with my thoughts, the trees, the sun, and my lukewarm coffee. I didn’t know whether she believed me, but let’s assume she wanted me to come around to discover the truth on my own.
And the truth? I wasn’t fine, and I honestly hadn’t been fine for quite a while.
For far too long, it felt like I had been trying to make a “home” out of sand. Every time I thought I made progress, a wave came and crashed down on everything I had built. My castle destroyed and the seashells of my hopes scattered at my feet. I felt like I had failed at making any space feel sacred, or any place feel whole.
And yet, my whole life, I had wanted to live in New York City. I wanted the glitter, the adventure, and even the glorious (albeit stubborn) Winter. I wanted to become someone in New York, to find love in New York, and to change the world from New York.
Instead, I found myself rewriting my dreams, chasing taxis, and wondering whether ordering sushi was financially responsible. Still, I think I told my mother I was “fine” because I so badly wanted to be. I so badly wanted to break through the concrete jungle in my soul and the one outside of my apartment.
I so badly want to find what I came to New York searching for.
Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty I had found, but none of it ever felt like enough. I know, I know, we all say that. The difference was that I was no longer happy by merely trying to change my mind or by continuously turning on new corners to wind up with even more questions.
Yet everyone always told me I belonged in New York.
Everyone told me that I was killing it and doing “all the things.” But if that were true, then why was I tired every day when I stepped onto the street or got woken up by firetrucks outside my window? Why did I feel like the light I came to the city with, was at the bottom of the wick in my heart?
Maybe it was time I let go of the hold I had on how I thought my life “should” go. Maybe happiness could be found somewhere where I could ignite the light I knew I had within me. Maybe it would be okay to tell my mother, “no, I’m not really all that happy.”
It was 75 degrees, and I saw my life going in 75 directions.
I hoped that one of those ways would finally take me home, but I had a feeling that wouldn’t be the case. A part of me knew, and a part of me knows now, I’d have to find a home in my heart before I found it anywhere else.