Eleven days ago, I left for a mini Eurotrip unsure of what to do with my so-called life in New York upon return.
Continue the grind, on low pay, in a city that inspires me, despite having, virtually, no close friends? Or move back to Hong Kong, where I’d have no trouble getting a cushy job–jobs are always cotton candy cushy for native English speakers in Asia–and be near most of my favorite people in the world?
The Europe trip was supposed to help me decide. Or actually, help sway me in the direction that was already winning? I mean, that I took the trip itself was a sign I was leaning back towards Hong Kong–I can afford to go on these holidays with my fluffy HK life, not the poor NYC life.
(And for the record, just about every one in their 20s is pinching pennies in the US these days; in Hong Kong, the land of expats and international school kids, you get tricked into thinking everyone is well off with the constant travels, nightly SoHo dinners, and parental funding of career goals).
And Europe (or, shall I say, London) was good. I saw my high school best friend from Alhambra and my former colleague/flatmate from Hong Kong. The latter was so good to me–took me out to cool hipster joints during the day, trendy bars/clubs during nights, cooked me breakfast and paid for my dinners–that I was almost in awe.
That somehow, despite my social awkwardness/snobbiness and moody, emo tantrums, I’ve gained an older sister from my time in Hong Kong. That, despite working for the biggest asshole in the city, my two years at Beats proved to be life-changing: I got my (real) start in writing, and, more importantly, many of my colleagues and interns have become close personal friends.
New York is New York. But I’ve come to realize that maybe it’s the people in your life that matters. And yes, I know the cliche: “Friends will come”. But…I’m too old, too tired, too socially-awkward (this last bit is important, I don’t just want to hang with anyone…) to want to go through that whole process of forming close friendships again. I’ve never actively tried it. Every one of my good friendships were formed naturally and organically, not at some bullshit networking event or cocktail mixer (seriously, WTF is that?) or these random parties where every guest can invite anyone.
I have 4 to 6 good friends–people I’m confident I’ll keep in touch with for the rest of my life–in LA, and another 8-9 of these cats in Hong Kong.
Maybe that’s enough.
But then, hanging around London and hopping from spot to spot with friends reminded me how much fun it’d be to do this in New York. That I can’t give up yet, that I gotta try to make New York work.
Yesterday, on my last morning in London before flying back to New York, I woke up feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness and confusion.
Why did I voluntarily leave all these friends behind? Now I go back to New York where I’m by myself every day and night. What the fuck am I gonna do? Do I stay or do I go?
Anita–that’s her name, by the way, if you scroll this blog back far enough you’ll see that I’ve never mentioned her by name, always as “my sassy flatmate who talks like Beyonce”–took me to Brick Lane for lunch. She told me that she, too, is wondering if she and her boyfriend should move back to Hong Kong (she moved to London to be with the love two years ago).
“All my best friends are in Hong Kong,” she said. “But then, some days, when the sun is out and I’m walking through this space in London, I’m like ‘I can’t get this in Hong Kong’
I’m so torn on what to do.”
And then, we passed by this mural near the end of the road.
Ah, the British variation of the NBA cliche “just gotta take it one game at a time”.
Just make it up as you go along
At least Anita has someone to make it up with. I’m doing this all alone.