Stepping off NJ transit last night, out into the flurries, out into the cold, the noise, the crisp winter air, the lights, the traffic, the tourists mucking up maneuverability on the sidewalks, the ease with which profanity left my lips when my bag would stall in a crack or someone got in my way or said something obnoxious, standing in line for a taxi and then my driver hitting on me, telling me not to let anyone else drive me up to Connecticut this weekend (I am not going to Connecticut this weekend), spending the night in some body's loft, I had to ask myself:
Why did I ever leave New York?
I went to yoga this morning (one of the perks of being home is actually subbing at my old work, which is great as I need monies and some peace of mind indeed) and someone came in right before class started and asked me to move my mat so they could fit. Instantly I was full of resentment--"Why didn't you get here earlier? Why don't you ask somebody else to move? Don't you understand the nature of New York real estate, bitch?" I'm a volatile yogini, I know. Of course I moved, but having that moment of spite for something as simple as that reiterated for me the fact that people don't change. They really don't. I'm still the same hyper-competitive, driven, incredibly susceptible to stress girl that I was when I left. I still have the same prejudices (Seriously: I hate it when people ask me to move my mat. HATE. IT.), still enjoy the same things, the same company, and still miss the same people I seem to have misplaced. You can take the girl out of New York, but...
I haven't adjusted to England yet. There are too many parts of myself that I'm not certain what to do with in terms of that city. The truth is, there I will always be an outside: an American with a different urban sensibility who talks funny. And here, well, I'm exactly what makes up this place.
Still, New York doesn't feel like home anymore. Events have happened in my friends' lives that I haven't been around for, and other things (people included) have simply moved on without me. And it's not like I actually have a home here. The biggest "Huh" moment I had leaving London was looking at my empty key ring. My parents had just moved (again) and I didn't have a key to their new home, and there were of course no apartment keys resting there, having waited months for use again. I had already turned in my halls keys to the front desk when I checked out, in an effort to get reimbursed for the days I would not be staying there. So there I was, without any ties to any place. And it was strange. New York feels familiar--like some old lover we can pick up the dance right where we left off. But it's not home. And neither is England--not yet, anyway.
And where is the art in this discussion? Non-existent it seems. Except that your surroundings influence your output, and having a place to rest is the first step to being able to think clearly. And thinking clearly helps you see, and create, and all that good stuff. I left New York because I felt stifled, artistically and in life generally. In England I feel mostly lost and alone, but on the brink of something great that I can only discover by myself (for some reason, this last bit seems to be the most true thing I know), though in part aided by others. So how do you make art that is grounded in anything, when you yourself are not? And what changes that?
I guess we'll find out.