When I first moved here, I met one of Kris’s friend who never failed to ask me, “So how Charlene, isn’t New York City the greatest ever.” Back then, I didn’t feel like it was the greatest city at all. I had just moved away from my family and friends, I left a stable job, I knew zero people in this city and Kris was at work all day. I didn’t know what to do with all this free time, I felt really lonely inside, and everything felt uncomfortably foreign. I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted and I didn’t want to lie either, so I just smiled and shrugged.
Circa Summer 2014 and now Manhattan feels like home. Our apartment – a sanctuary that we both have built together with love and the growing bonds of our marriage. I felt this very strongly during a recent visit to Singapore, the past couple of times I left the country (Singapore) I would be sad and felt this deep sinking feeling in my heart and throat. This time, I found myself excited to go back to NYC, excited to start school and excited to be home. A home — where I have been painstakingly caring for, rearranging, decorating and filling with little stuff that meant something to us, a welcoming respite from the urban jungle in which we lived in. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss family, friends and truly enjoyed spending time in Singapore but I also feel that now I have a family/home in New York. I have found my way in this seemingly unfriendly and cut throat city, carved out a space that belonged to me and rekindled a ‘relationship’ with myself. Emotionally I am so much stronger and happier now; far more comfortable than I have been in a long time. I feel confident of my abilities to be alone, to thrive in a new city. I like making new friends, but I’m also very happy to be eating, reading, exercising or even partaking in any activity that traditionally involved more people -by myself and truly enjoying the solitude. The comfort of my new found independence is truly liberating.
I’m hoping that the new direction (grad school) I’m taking in my life will challenge me enough to grow into a better person. More importantly, I hope to find a vocation that allows me a deeper sense of purpose, something that allows me to make my surroundings and the people I interact with happier. My goal is to make education an accessible privilege to all and for it to better bridge socio-economic divides. I’m not sure what or how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to try to get there.
In short, I am proud to say that I have *ahem” crossed over that uneasy (and necessary, if I may) transitional bridge of international migration and look forward to more exciting adventures here and everywhere my our heart desires. (I have a partner in crime now, so I can’t leave him behind :P)