Intolerants Rant: New York State of Mind – I’m Here. I’m There. I Was Never There at All
The sun hits my face as the wind cuts across my cheeks carving southeasterly tracks that migrate towards the outer edges of my jaw. The gusts are sharp and unforgiving, and somewhat wanton at that. They’re Winter’s last-ditch attempt to hold onto the spotlight and strong arm Spring before she’s had the chance to arrive. I zigzag across Brooklyn on this pseudo spring day strolling from market to antique store and drowning myself in countless cups of blended fusions. This is my attempt to jar the reality of the situation home. Tuning into the conversations of people passing by I eyeball clothing and commit lingo to memory. I observe the mundane traction of daily life.
‘This will work’ I tell myself, though hours pass and it doesn’t. It hasn’t. Not quite. Not really.
Not just yet.
My subconscious is still moving across the Atlantic and muscle memory is lost somewhere on the other side of the bed. My body tries to recalibrate each time my feet hit the floor in the morning, but a case of temporary amnesia continues to blind me. Thud! Whack! I exit the bedroom and take a hard left because – you know – that’s where the bathroom is supposed to be, however all I get is a face full of wall and an angry (quite enraged in fact) jammed left toe.
This isn’t something new of course. It will be the rhythm for the first few months at least, thanks to the blow expat life has delivered. My displacement #firstworldproblems rise to the surface by way of a subtle disorientation laced with mild confusion. I’ve spent the first weeks wandering aimlessly around this foreign city; living in a lucid dream. Everything is dusted in a violet-hued haze and inverse shock takes me by the shoulders as reversals of culture slap me all over my face. I attempt to bridge the divide, momentarily stuck between places, trying to remember where I’m supposed to reside.
I sometimes still dress like a bag lady who wants to hide every edge and curve, and I catch myself smoothing down wild curls with the palm of a freshly manicured hand. I get whiplash upon entering the local grocery and shamelessly hoard oddities like brown rice flakes and organic almond butter. Each day I walk out the front door presuming Cairo will be in the foreground, and each day I’m greeted with brownstone, Buicks and Americanized English: everything familiar to the senses, but still rough to the touch. Thankfully, my condition is improving as Egypt fades into the background, and though Cairo’s long shadow clings tightly, it’s not as suffocating as it used to be. The expanse I used to inhabit doesn’t exist anymore, I sometimes have to ask myself if I was ever really there. And so the days continue, I move between spaces, let go of old places and figure out how to make this new metropolis my own.
You see, I’m no longer there and I’m not yet here.
I’m really nowhere at all.
*Originally written for Empress Tea: an experimental and creative group blog that acts as an artistic outlet to inspire and encourage participation from talented women from across the globe.