When I moved to New York, it was the first time in my entire life that I moved somewhere not knowing when I was going to leave. I found the fact that I could be living here in New York indefinitely really, really unsettling. It also didn't help that I felt like I had wound up in New York by default. It wasn't so much the best option as it was the least bad option. There really wasn't any other place in the country where I would've wanted to live as a single 25-year-old, single being the operative word in this sentence.
So initially, I was rather negative on the City before deciding that I needed an attitude adjustment. I convinced myself that yes, this was the best place to be as a single 25-year-old. And then I convinced myself that since I was here indefinitely, it was time to buckle down and actively concentrate on dating and relationships. I like to call it my "time-to-stay-put-mentality."
I tend to attribute my perpetual singleness to the fact that I've always been sort of focused on where I was going with my life (even if I never really knew where that was). In the back of my mind, there's always been this hesitation of not wanting to get entangled in a relationship and be forced to give up my dreams to follow some boy. But now that I was indefinitely stationary, it seemed logical to start concentrating on my personal life. Stay put. Grow up. Stop dreaming about traveling and moving around every few years.
Today, probably for the first time in a really long time, the I-wish-I-was-living-in-a-foreign-country wave hit me.
I blame my Afghan coffee cart guy, who may be one of the nicest people I interact with on a day-to-day basis, for this sudden surge of restlessness. He was just chatting with the guy from the coffee cart across the street and eating a plate of food from the food cart next to his, and as he poured me my coffee, he told me that the guy from the coffee cart across the street was actually his uncle. I don't know why that made me smile. It reminded me of how all the shopkeepers at street markets in Cairo knew each other. It reminded me of the sense of community that suddenly bonds even the most typically unfriendly Americans when displaced in a foreign environment. I suddenly longed to be somewhere else, soaking up a local culture, learning a new language and, when struck by homesickness, retreating back into a community of Americans with whom I never would have been friends back at home.
It wasn't quite enough to make me immediately sign up to move to Kabul, but it did get me thinking. If I weren't for the fact that I decided that my odds of meeting someone were best in New York, would I still be here? Would I still be practicing law? Doubtful. If I wasn't so worried about being single for the rest of my life, I would have done everything in my power to move to some random country. I wouldn't be limiting my current job search to New York.
You hear about people all the time who put their personal life on hold for their careers. I guess in a way, I am sort of doing the opposite. I've put that dream of working abroad on hold in pursuit of this pipe dream of finding true love...