March 24, 2005
Songs Of New York
Probably the most frequently asked question people ask me back home in the greater New York City area is, "So, how's it feel to be back?" Often my response is, "Great! I'm actually excited about being home. It'd be different if I went home to Ohio or something, but this is New York City." (No offense to you readers in Ohio of course.)
AS FRANK SINATRA SINGS IN "NEW YORK, NEW YORK," "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere." There is a lot of truth in that line; New York City represents the acme of American progress in the arts, theater, media, fashion, nightlife, journalism, literature, and business -- nowhere else on the planet does it all come together in one place as it does in The Big Apple. With that said, New York is hardly a boring place to be -- it's no wonder it's a tourist destination for foreigners and other Americans (and seagulls too, picture above). In fact, the few days after DAY 503, I continued to be a in "tourist mode" as Maurice and I brought out-of-towners Shelle and Deann to the touristy sites around town while Shelle was killing time before her New York interview with Doctors Without Borders, in hopes of landing an assignment back in Africa.
Since the girls' departure back south, I began the gradual process of getting my life back, integrating myself back into metropolitan New York society. This of course is just a fancy pretentious way of saying "hanging out and drinking with my friends and trying not to pass out on the train or bus before my stop." This is hardly counter-productive though; from my experience, booze sessions and parties often result in prospects for freelance work, which is a good thing since freelance video, design, and writing work is what I plan on doing for the meantime to get back on my financial feet again. (As much as I can help it, I am trying to prevent myself from "entering The Matrix" of a 9 to 5 job again, for as long as I can.)
With news of my return, everything came to me in a New York Minute. Within days of being back, projects for freelance work and prospects for publishing and video gigs with a number of respected media outlets were suddenly put in my lap -- so many at the same time that it was a bit overwhelming and made my head spin. While this sounds all exciting, the reality of it is that it all translates to a shitload of work that takes away from my "me time" of actually digesting the trip, sleeping, and instant messaging -- and all for leads that may or may not end up into something lucrative. In short, a lot of doors of opportunity are open for me at this point, and it's up to me to pick one and put the time and effort into entering it. So far I've started at the beginning by upgrading to a new PowerBook, thus phasing out (but not completely) my iBook (and iClamp) that went around the world with me.
Sure many changes have occurred in the past sixteen and a half months since I'd been gone: this friend broke up with that person, that friend hooked up with this person; my brother got engaged, another friend got pregnant; one couple that was expecting before I left had their child already, while another couple that wasn't expecting conceived and had their second kid. But for the most part, everything back home had remained the same. Most personalities of my friends hadn't changed at all, and I still listen to the same music and wear the same clothes as I did in October 2003. "You haven't changed one bit," friend and Blogreader Koetke commented to me when came to visit wearing my old jacket and Chuck Taylor sneakers.
Sean Keener, president of Bootsnall.com, host providers of this Blog, called me up one day to touch base with me and to see how I'd been dealing with what many travelers refer to as "Re-Entry Syndrome." "[So, you must be a changed person now, after all that you've experienced,]" he said.
"[Actually, no. I don't feel any different. I'm still the same guy,]" I told him. This usually isn't the answer he gets I assume; usually long-term travelers returned home are transformed and enlightened or something. Then again, The Global Trip 2 was never about escapism or "finding myself," it was merely a mid-life break to satisfy a burning wanderlust. I guess if there's any transformation I'd gone through on my trip, it's that my wanderlust is completely tapped out -- at least for the time being. Otherwise, I'm still my same old self, just back in New York -- not that that's a bad thing; I was pretty content with my life before I left. Friend and Blogreader Dunlavey said that I'm probably unchanged because I had a strong personality before I left to begin with.
Whether or not that's true, the fact of the matter is, my brain is oversaturated with experiences, and I barely have time to digest it all with everything I have going on now. In fact, the entire trip was so full of experiences that it's turned into one big blur in my mind. "Unless you remind me of something I'd done, I'd probably forget about it," I told friend and Blogreader Robin one day at lunch. And yet at the same time, I'm ready for more.
"[It's because in your head,] New York is just another stop," Travelers' Tales editor/writer Jen Leo said to me when we went out for dinner the night after DAY 503.
Whether the Metropolitan New York Area is just another stop in a continual lifestyle of a nomad, or merely another stop in the grand trip of Life, I don't know yet. I just know that in the meantime, it will be where I hang my hat for a while to re-gather myself and work towards entering those doors of opportunity that are open for me. Traveling around the world was fun, but for me, now is the time to make something of it. To quote some lyrics from a famous Billy Joel song:
It was so easy living day by day
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Posted by Erik on March 24, 2005 02:05 PM