Two Years a New Yorker: Marking Time

Can you tire of New York?

All of the sudden it was June 3, 2021. Just two years ago I was jet-lagged after fleeing Beijing, missing the dumplings, and dragging my backpack on the NJTransit from my family's home to a summer rental in Brooklyn. It feels like a lifetime ago.

It seems incredibly silly to try and mark a two year anniversary in New York City right now, considering that, for the majority of it, a pandemic raged. Before March 2020, I wanted to leave. I planned an escape to Paris. I wanted to travel and be nomadic. Then everything halted, and the rest needs no explaining. A year of nearly endless ambulance sirens, constant fear, endless confusion, and death marked my experience in New York.

All that and a few good pizzas, of course.

I still feel new here, like I just stepped off the train. I don't know that many new people. I haven't made many friends or explored many restaurants or venues. Most of my social interaction has been visiting apartments to rent. I'm living in my fourth now, in two years. That's my New York.

Something new to experience, at least...

Still, I believe that it's worth acknowledging that I stayed for two years, if only because I haven't stayed for two years in any place but Paris since college. For me that is both exciting and horrifying. Exciting because it shows that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks (though he will not use TikTok) and horrifying because it means there are so many places I haven't been or lived in during that time. For a nomadic spirit, that's tough.

Staying put is easier, however, when you have no choice. I thrived during the pandemic because my nomadic self had no choice but to accept it and find ways around it. Long walks. New projects. Writing novels. These things were the byproduct of a wanderer accepting his prison, knowing he'd be released eventually.

Two years later, the shackles are off, it seems. We're moving forward, out of the pandemic, and New York is a thing again. I can go places, see people, do things. But will I? So much of the desire to connect with this place in the way we used to is gone. The new attraction, the Little Island, for example, is exciting to many. I visited, snored, left. That's not the city I want anymore.

I feel like trying to live in the New York I came to is a fool's errand. We can't go back to it and that's fine. But how do you shift your expectations and perspectives of a place when they are so deeply rooted in you and everyone around you? It's a challenge. I need to find the people and places that I actually want to spend my time with and in, but there's always a lurking fear that I won't succeed.

Staying at home for months has allowed this nomad to be entirely content wandering within his own mind. The challenge now is how to get out of it. Hopefully it won't take another two years to break these new habits.