I came across a quote recently:
“When something good happens, travel to celebrate. When something bad happens, travel to forget it. If nothing happens, travel to make something happen.”
Three weeks back I found myself once again on a plane taking me to the US. First on my schedule was Chicago, then New York.
New York was to be my moment of truth. I was worried to return to the city I’ve come to love so much, but a city that’s forever gonna be connected with one of my loves and a dream that will never come true now.
I was terrified to think that when I return there, I might find out that without him, the city might just not feel as magical, it might not feel as homey as it did before. What if all the magic New York held for me was in fact connected to that one person and the possibility of our future together?
What if all this time I’ve been chasing a dream that wasn’t really about me.. What if, just what if… my love for New York wasn’t all that real and was only ever about him..
I needed to find out. I needed to face my fears and figure out once and for all if that dream is still there or if it has changed into an empty hope that lost all of its meaning.
And despite something deep in my heart kept telling me, my love for the city was real and my dreams were truly mine, I needed to make sure.
I needed to make sure so I don’t spend next five years chasing a dream that in fact no longer exists – or that simply doesn’t matter anymore.
And so I booked the ticket. Hoping the city will still be as magical as before. Hoping it’s going to heal me. Hoping it’s not gonna feel unbearably empty.
Yes – I jumped on the plane because something bad has happened and I wanted to forget it. But I also needed to face it in order to forget it and move on.
And I jumped on the plane as well because I needed something new to happen. And that’s what Chicago has provided.
Chicago was in fact a little detour, postponing my date with the truth. However, it has turned into one of the most wonderful surprises.
The city and its lake – yes, that lake! – has completely charmed me, and my host – a girl I barely knew through blogging prior to my arrival, but who was so welcoming and offered not only to help me with planning my trip, but also to stay at her place, has become instantly a dear friend. One of the greatest surprises of my life, indeed.
Chicago was very much about new beginnings for me, about starting over. About finding other options.
I could imagine myself living there so easily.
I was walking the streets absolutely amazed by the beauty of the architecture. I was walking the beach and gazing at the lake, feeling such a strange calmness… realizing, the water element might actually be the one thing, I might have been missing in my life all along. Perhaps the fiery Aries in me, simply needs the water to calm her down…?
Whatever the case, Chicago might not have given me all the answers, but it made one thing clear for me: Whatever struggles I have encountered in the past few years, I have survived. I was strong, because it didn’t break me. I was still alive. And strong enough to keep on going. Even if my journey has turned into a rather lonely one. Yes, I might be going through my life solo – and for quite some time now, but I don’t really mind.
Here, in Chicago, US, I felt liberated. I felt free. And the following quote kept coming to my mind:
“Don’t be afraid to start over. It’s a chance to build something better this time.”
And I felt like if the city was whispering you can start building it here!
I was walking the streets that did not bear any memories of anyone – or anything. Just possibilities. And I felt hopeful.
New York was a different story.
First few days, I felt like the city was just laughing at me. I sat in Central Park by the view I loved most in the world and…. felt nothing. Literally. No the usual amazement. Not the familiar feeling of home or inspiration. Not even disappointment though. I just felt lost. Like if something in me has died. I felt like I don’t really know where I belong.. Was this truly were my heart was?
I couldn’t make my mind.
My long anticipated meetings with a friend of mine didn’t go quite as planned either and I felt like New York is once again playing with me. Promising the best, but then providing me with nothing more than disappointments.
But then it hit me – this time around, New York was supposed to be about me. It was supposed to be just me and New York. No other influence. I had to have a clear mind. I had to find out how I feel about New York on my own. Completely.
And as the days went by, and as my friend told me throughout a phone call when I confided in him that I feel like I belong nowhere, and he simply replied “I think you might belong here, I think New York suits you”, step by step I began to realize that he might just be right.
I don’t know if I will ever live in this city of dreams, but I do know, that I will always return, because what is between me and New York is a love affair that might just be my one and true love. And as in every relationship we’ve had our highs… and our lows. I went through all the emotions while in New York this time. All of them. But it only made me see things clearer – and at the end of the journey love the city even more. Because it has not given up on me – and I have not given up on it.
My last night there I went to the Brooklyn Bridge Park and while taking in the beautiful Manhattan skyline with all its lights, I could hear the city whispering to me once again, offering its magic.
Yes, as much as I have fallen in love with Chicago, New York is and always will be my soul city.
A city that gave birth to my dreams and to my true self. A city that showed me in the first place, what I am capable of and that life and the world I dream about, does exist after all.
There’s just something about New York and the way it makes you feel… Like you could be anyone, could do anything.. It’s a feeling of pure inspiration, like only the sky is the limit. And you never feel alone. And I love the energy. I love the lights. I love the unexpected encounters.
And somehow, when I walk the streets of Upper West Side, when I walk down the Broadway, all the way from the 80th to Central Park… (my favorite part of the city!) and then carry on through the park… I feel like I might just be at the right place. I feel strangely in sync with this city. And I feel like I can let go of anything and just be.
Facing your fears is hard, and it’s so easy to run away from them. But I encourage you never to hide only because you’re scared – scared that it’s gonna be way too hard and you simply don’t wanna put yourself through it, or because you’re simply afraid of what you’re gonna find out.
Because if you don’t face the truth, you will always wonder… You will live in doubt. And perhaps, miss on opportunities. You will let your fears rule your life. And I don’t know how about you, but I don’t want my fears to take control of my life. I need things to be clear. Always.
So don’t be afraid. The truth can never be worse than the doubt.
I’m so glad I did return to New York. I thought it might have been too soon, but perhaps, I should have come much sooner. I know one thing for sure now – our love affair is real and ever lasting and it doesn’t require anybody else to be part of it. Because me and New York.. that simply is enough.