On The Road Again

For the second time in two weeks, I find myself on a 24+ hour-long journey on the now familiar Amtrak. It is night now, and I type to keep myself as long as possible from the unpleasant, fractured sleep that is unavoidable on the train. My logic is that the longer I push myself to stay awake, the more tired I will become so that when I eventually do fall asleep there’s a chance my body will be so in need of rest that I may sleep through the night, undisturbed by the clash of the metal car doors sliding open or the midnight antics of restless children that perpetually seem to haunt the Amtrak.

Like Pandamonium, I oscillate between levels of sleepiness and contemplation, which I offer as an excuse for the scattered quality of my thoughts in this post.

I am traveling to New York City thanks to my eight-week internship with a non-profit organization in Manhattan. I’ve certainly been excited for this internship since I was hired in January, but my week or so at home made me realize how truly grateful I am to have this opportunity.

I love my home city because it is full of memories. I lived there exclusively for the first eighteen years of my life, and so it’s natural for me to considerate my home. For a long time I couldn’t consider living anywhere else—that is until I hit my senior year of high school and was filled with the stereotypical teenage wanderlust. I wanted to get away from my home, really far away, Amherst, Massachusetts far away.

And I obviously did get away, and it was eye opening and sometimes difficult and wonderful. And while I didn’t really want this first year to end, at the same time I was excited to go home and see my family and friends. At first it was an overwhelming relief to be home—probably influenced by my joy at no longer being on the train—but I soon discovered that home wasn’t as comfortable as I expected. For the first time I really noticed the homogeneity of my community. I listened to my friends use words or make comments in an unintentionally (I hope) pejorative way that still made me uncomfortable. I felt stifled by my automatic return to the role of the child at home, after being treated as an adult for ten months.

These are not novel complaints for a college student coming home for the first time, but they helped me see all the more how much I was looking forward to my internship, and finally tipped my emotional balance from mostly nervous to mostly excited for the trip. But as excited as I am to be living in New York, (which is pretty damn excited) that little kernel of nervousness still remains within me.

I went from living in a smaller-sized capital city of a Midwestern state to a small college in rural western Massachusetts, and now to one of the largest cities in the world, where I will be living and working alone, albeit surrounded by eight million people.

For the next eight weeks I will be writing about this transition and the various adventures and mishaps that accompany me. Hopefully I’ll be able to pull some meaningful insights from my experiences, but if not then you should at least be entertained by stories of me making a fool of myself in the city.

Wish me luck?