Even with all the wonders of New York and all the places I still haven’t seen and the things I haven’t done, I’m starting to feel that ever looming need to run.
Maybe my brain is just programmed this way. Maybe I will always be burdened with the unbearable feeling that I want to be anywhere but where I am. Maybe this is just part of the pain that’s imparted on someone with a travel-bug the size of China, but who has regrettably been unable to travel to all the places they’ve lusted after for years and years. Whatever the cause, in every place I’ve ever lived the feeling begins to creep up slowly, the foreboding sense that I should be living somewhere else. Working somewhere else. Seeing the great and tragic world filled with brilliant and diverse cities, beautiful and haunting landscapes, and unrelenting and mythical histories.
It’s the same feeling that pushed me East for college and away from the mountains of Colorado. The same feeling that made the culture of Washington, DC feel toxic. Whatever that feeling is—and I can’t describe it other than wanting to be anywhere but here—it’s beginning to make New York feel claustrophobic and closed in. It’s the same feeling that has me jonesing for the next adventure. It’s the same feeling that has me dying to walk through the tundra of Alaska, see Hadrian’s wall in Britain, chase the waves on the shores of Mount St. Michel, cruise down the Danube, run with wild horses in Mongolia, feed giraffes in Tanzania, become a hobbit in New Zealand, and just live.
Every place has something. Cities and countrysides throughout the world have a certain majestic quality that draws people to them. In New York it’s the tall buildings, the art, the bustling people. In Montana it’s the breathtaking landscapes that drag on for miles. Every place has something. Every location is made up of people, and places, and things, and moments. Things that make them, them.
But, as much as I want to run away and have these new experiences far from the shores of where I am, there’s something different about wanting to run away this time. I don’t just want to go to the next great place, I also want to go back. I want to collect banana slugs in the mountains of northern California. I want to drive down dirt roads in Colorado. I want to walk through the monuments and politics of DC. I even want to stay here—in New York—and enjoy big city life.
Because those people, and places, and things, those things that make a location special, those things that make them, them are also some of the things that have gone on to make me, me. Every place I’ve ever been to, every place I’ve ever lived has shaped me. And, I think instead of running away from those things, as I get older—accepting the fact that I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20–I’m starting to appreciate what every place has given me. I’m starting to appreciate how every place has shaped me.
I could give you a laundry list, but I’ll refrain from doing so simply to say the following: Menlo Park, California—from the snippets I can remember—helped me fall in love with the walkable city. Colorado not only gave me my childhood, but it taught me to appreciate nature even in the wake of a booming population. Washington, DC gave me a chance to become an adult, explore my passions, and surround myself with smart, hardworking people. Chicago reminded me that every city isn’t the same. And, New York has taught me to be yourself.
For whatever qualms I may have had along the way, whatever boredom may have crept up on me from time to time, whatever new adventure I was ready to embark upon; without living and breathing and experiencing the life in many place I have been fortunate to live—and I have been fortunate to live in many different places—for better or for worse I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I wouldn’t have met the people I know. I wouldn’t have lifelong friends—stretching at times not just across the country but across the globe. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate equally the beauty of empty-rolling hills and mountains and the magnanimity of densely packed high-rise buildings.
As much as I want to run, I know I’m not done with New York (besides I have real world obligations tethering me here, like a job). But, even if I were to pick up my bags tomorrow, hop on a plane and fly half way across the world, it’s a part of me. And, it will continue to be a part of me. Just like every place I’ve ever lived.