I’ve been back in France for not even two full days yet, and I feel like I never left. I feel like New York happened in some dream, and I woke up yesterday at the airport, and everything was back to normal. I’m seeing all my friends, going to my favorite places, walking in my old neighborhoods, eating good food. I spent the whole day with one of my best girlfriends, working on our computers and then watching TV and eating pizza. Last night, at dinner and drinks with a full eight (eight!) of my friends, it was as though the conversation had picked up where it left off seven months ago.
Marc’s best friend/long-time roommate/one of the best people in the world and I had a long conversation about how much we all missed each other. I tried not to cry, which was particularly hard, given that we were in one of our favorite old bars. But even in the sadness, it was the happiest I’d felt in a long time.
And part of it is the sun, after the longest, most awful winter I’ve ever experienced. I understand that arriving to warm, clear skies puts anyone in a good mood, and my apartment is bright and clear and well-located with a stunning view:
But it isn’t all aesthetics. It’s being home again, with all of the people I love, slipping back into groups of people who feel like extended family, with whom work and obscure, bitchy things about the internet never, ever come up. For the past two days, I have been mostly unaware of what’s going on on the internet. I try to just do my work, drop it off, and stay present in my real life and what I’m experiencing off my laptop. With the exception of Marc’s (notable, and terrible) absence from this trip, everything is back where it was.
And it has made me realize that, in New York, I was so, so tired. I had fallen into such horrible rhythms of obsessing about the most petty, unimportant things on the internet, and waking myself up in the middle of the night with panic attacks about minute work things. And again, part of it was almost certainly the weather, which kept me from experiencing nearly anything outside of my office or my apartment, but part of it is also the culture that media creates and sustains itself on in New York. Everything is so insular, everything is so connected, and with social media, nothing goes unnoticed. There is a new scandal, and a new witch to burn at the stake, nearly every day. And being in New York feels like being at the center of that storm, an inescapable tornado of anxiety and status and the opinions of people you don’t even care for.
There was a simplicity in my life here that feels so good, and so right, to get back into. It’s not just that my friends here are so wonderful — and they are — it’s that they are all so diverse, from such different fields and with such different interests, that there is simply no time to obsess over the unimportant. If I were to mention at dinner some weird media thing I saw posted and mocked on a blog, they would just stare at me sort of blankly, and remind me without saying anything that thinking of this kind of thing is not worth my time.
I loved my life here. And I want so badly to love my life in New York. And I think it’s possible — especially with the good weather that’s finally coming — but I have to remember that just because I’m in the center of the storm, it doesn’t mean I have to pay attention to it. If I’m capable of shutting my laptop here, I can shut my laptop back there, too.