I’ve known my life would be different from my parents lives since I was 21. Sitting in my college apartment in the middle of the day pondering my life thus far, as people are wont to do on birthdays. I realized most of the women in my family were either married by 22 or knew the person they would marry.
I was recently single and with no prospects. And I didn’t really want marriage prospects either. That’s when I realized one major thing wasn’t going to go as planned. No ring before spring here!
I admitted to myself that my life would not follow this template I had in my head. I wasn’t going to settle down with a job and a house in the country and live happily ever after. Things were not going to fit into these nice neat boxes, there was going to be a lot more in-betweens.
This was the day I opened up my expectations to unexpected things. I didn’t know it then, but this realization was probably one of the first steps that got me here.
Feb 3 2018
At 5:50 AM I get a text. The bus is 20 minutes away.
The bus isn’t supposed to be here till 7 at the earliest! My alarm is set to go off at 6. The bus stop is 30 minutes away by subway. Dang it.
I start throwing on my clothes over my pjs. One shirt is inside out but it’s under my coat so who cares. I zip my coat all the way up and slip out the door.
It’s 6AM in New York in February so of course its 18 degrees outside. My walk from Hell’s Kitchen to the yellow line is quiet. Only smokers hang out outside in this weather (another reason why I will never smoke).
I reach the subway station and the train is late of course. It’s too early for any self-respecting New Yorker to be awake so why bother? Because the chinatown bus is about to deliver one of my favorite people.
Finally, I’m on the train. Arriving at Grand street at 6:45 and there he is. The man who tries to out ‘thank’ me, who debated with me, tirelessly, about what constitutes clean. Who cooks with me and who sings to me at night before (and sometimes after) I go to sleep.
Alex is here!
I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe he’s here, and I’m here and we’re both in New York City! A mere 4 months ago this chain of events didn’t exist even in my wildest dreams and now it’s happening before my eyes.
It’s freezing cold and we’re both tired. We reroute all the way back to my nice warm apartment. Where he proceeds to sleep for 5 more hours because he just got off an 11-hour bus ride from Charlotte NC. Why did he put himself through this? Cause it’s $20 cheaper than flying.
After a lot of sleeping, on his part, and reading, on my part, we start bundling back up again. I’ve convinced Alex that he needs to give the outside temperature another chance. After all he was only wearing ONE pair of socks this morning (rookie mistake).
Bundled up, and with four pairs of socks between the two of us, we strike out into the bright afternoon. Heading for Chinatown.
Thur Feb 8 2018
Mom and Friends
Again, and I get a text. it’s a picture of mom and two friends on the plane. They’re coming to New York.
I’m at my desk in Midtown, looking through a book proposal, but it’s hard to focus. A few hours later there’s another photo, the three of them posing with a cardboard cutout of a New Jersey Transit employee.
Once they’re on Manhattan island the pictures start flooding in, they’re by the Freedom Tower, now the Wall Street Bull and Girl.
Finally, they’re on my floor. We exchange hugs and how was your flights. I clock out of work early and we’re off.
We go and eat rice balls then head to see The Late Show (this is twice in one year for me).
The weekend is whirlwind. We zigzag up and down Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park to the Highline and back to Chinatown, and that’s just one day! This is mom and my third weekend together in the city and by now we know where all of the good public bathrooms are, crucial when touring New York.
Alex, who’s only been here a week but has researched this place like crazy, takes us to a quintessential Taiwanese restaurant. And just like that it’s already Saturday.
Sat Feb 10, 2018
Mom and I are sprawled out on the pull-out mattress of their weekend Airbnb, while Alex sits near the kitchen munching on a post dinner donut. We’re recounting the weekend, all the things we did, how we ended up walking 13 miles! How no one expected to like the goopy dessert at the Taiwanese Pork Chop but they loved it. What a time.
In this moment, I feel at home. Even though we’re miles away from the house I grew up in, the first place I called home. My family lives in three different corners of the united states. I’m 23, unmarried, with three jobs and passing money under the table to live in someone’s spare room. (I know there are a lot of people my age living this way, but I have to say it to understand how real it is.)
Everything is completely unexpected, yet I feel completely at home. Though things could be different, right now I don’t want them any other way.
I admitted to myself that my life would be unexpected so that I could prepare. Stretch my expectations or even change them entirely. Be able to find satisfaction in the strangest of places.
Tomorrow I’ll be looking at another spare room, maybe moving to another corner of Manhattan. This summer I might be in NC again. Come fall I could be anywhere, doing anything. Though the idea of not knowing scares me sometimes, after I calm down I find that I have all the tools I need to find home in these unexpected places.
I’ll keep you updated.