For Christmas, J and I drove to Atlanta (his hometown) and stayed there for a week. This was the first time we traveled anywhere from
our adopted, temporary home of Austin. The whole trip was entirely New York-less, but the city was on my mind the whole time...
1. As any New Yorker will tell you, one of the best things about living in NYC, is leaving NYC from time to time. It can make Ohio or Oregon feel like Disneyland - huge grocery stores! dishwashers! uninterrupted sleep! But on our way to Atlanta we realized that we weren't going to have such an exotic experience this time. While it was still nice to be on a vacation from work, and fantastic to be fed amazing meals several times day, it didn't have the same sense of decompressing or recuperating that it used to. It's like when I used to work at a stressful office job, that beer after work was a delicious, refreshing god-send. But once I started freelancing and had more manageable days, happy hour was no longer as revelatory - my work life was healthier, but the pleasure I could attain from kicking back was diminished by as much.
2. As we drove away from Atlanta after Christmas, J and I both had a sense that we had forgotten to take advantage of the suburban amenities - why didn't we stock up on cheap olive oil, or buy a ton of socks from Costco? We should have done one more load of laundry before we left! It was clear we were still in a New York state of mind, momentarily forgetting we were returning to equally-cushy Austin.
3. The drive to and from Atlanta took 2 days in each direction. So maybe it was the trappings of the American road trip (gas stations, fast food, little motels) that made me realize it: living in New York, I felt like a citizen of the world - and having left it, I now feel like a citizen of the U.S. As a citizen of the world I felt cultured, significant, connected, challenged, sharp; as a citizen of the U.S. I feel coddled, invisible, detached. As you might imagine (and can possibly relate to?) this is a pretty sobering thought. Sometimes I take stock in it, and other times I chalk it up to New York snobbishness, and wonder how long I'll be a snob.