Moving around is hard. Trust me, I know. New York is one of the many stops in my young adult life, and along the way, I have learned a cornucopia of things about living life on a pogo stick.
For starters, making friends in adulthood is virtually impossible, like actually landing a ring on one of those ring-toss bottles at the fair or making it through a first date without at least one awkward silence. I say virtually impossible because it is actually possible, just really difficult to do. The American way, as we all know, is to work work work and then catch life in little pieces as we find the time. Now, there are definitely benefits to this, namely our economic superiority (our GDP is still over 2x as large as our closest competitor, FYI) and our universally-known work ethic, both praised and ridiculed at the same time and often by the same person. But, on the downside, we have become a society that is only concerned with the “ME” in “TEAM.” Casual conversation is hard to come by, and without an already established social circle and avenue through which to meet friends like a college campus, sports team, or an acceptable pool of work colleague non-weirdos, meeting people is akin to going to the dentist, painful at best. People walk with their heads down and a neon sign on their chests that says “Don’t talk to me. Ever.,” especially in the amalgamated metropolis of New York City.
I have never been one to have extreme trouble making friends. I am not the most outgoing person; in fact, I am quite shy. But, I’m not quite weird enough to scare people away and my southern accent oddly intrigues people. I’ve learned that accents are kind of like Woody Allen films; for reasons that no one can explain, most people like them. Even with those things on my side (lack of extreme weirdness and southern accent), making friends is still proving to be incredibly challenging.
I looked into taking Spanish classes to meet people (even though I already speak Spanish), but they want to claim your first three children and garnish your checks for life as payment. No.
I go to coffee shops and do work, serving the purpose of getting out of my tiny apartment while also thinking in the back of my head that I might bump into someone and somehow strike up a conversation. Nope.
I take walks in Central Park, always aware of the lingering possibility of falling into conversation with a stranger. Not so much.
I have gone to a few gatherings organized by colleagues after receiving the ever coveted I-know-you-just-moved-here-and-have-no-friends pity invite. Ultimately though, I had some conversations with new people but didn’t meet anyone that struck me as “friend material.” Maybe that makes me pretentious and/or picky, but I think that as an adult, being a bit picky is good when it comes to friends.
I had a bit of a romantic encounter that I managed to ruin after about a month, which as you will find out over time, is not at all unusual for me. But, at this point, my social life pretty much consists of playing guitar, watching TV, doing work, and cooking. Alone. With time, I know that it will get better. I will meet more people, make friends, and have a chance to really explore the city; however, none of those things are the case at the moment, and sometimes, I have to consciously remind myself that things will change with time.
Not all is lost, though. In my short time here, I have gotten pretty good at navigating the city. I walk almost everywhere, and when I do take the subway, I know where to transfer and how to zig and zag through the intricacies of New York City transit. I have been to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and a Mets’ game at CitiField. I have walked all over Central Park. I live next to the Hudson River and can go check out that view any time I’d like.
Overall, I am enjoying my experience in New York and I have enjoyed my experiences in my other cities. Being a nomad at this age has given me the chance to live in several places and to learn about many different ways of life while not yet having to worry about some of the more adult issues that will inevitably crop up as I get older; i.e. wife, kids, real responsibility. The loneliness that I feel when I first move somewhere is admittedly difficult to handle, but I honestly believe that learning to cope with loneliness is a worthwhile endeavor. Many peoples’ fear of being alone is a key motivator in their life decisions, and while I am not in any way knocking that tendency, I would like to keep it out of my personal repertoire of reasons for doing things. I know that when I look back at this period of my life, I will look at it fondly and be proud of the places that I went and the things that I accomplished.
Nomad spelled backward is Damon. If my name were Damon, that would be a cool fact.
More to come.