I hadn’t cried. It’s been a little over a month since I moved to Chicago and yes, there were two distinctive instances in which I felt the pinch, the nostalgia, the where-the-hell-am-I-because-this-definitely-is-not-NY feeling. It had to do with Sophie, she’s the one I miss the most. But I hadn’t cried. Mike asked me, about two weeks into my move, if I had cried. It’s expected, it’s part of the process. I don’t cry that often. I usually don’t have much reason to do so, which is a good thing, I think. Yes, when someone decides to leave me, be it because of death or a break up, I cry. Sometimes, when I’m watching a sad movie or reading a book with which I identify, I cry or I tear up, but it’s not common.
It’s past 1:30 am and as I lay in bed to go to sleep, I ask myself, what am I doing here? My immediate answer is: I’m living my life… alone, by myself, away from the people I love. And then I cry.
I love my job. I love what I’m doing. I worked long and hard to be where I am right now, in this country, professionally. I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given. I enjoy every minute of the hard work. It’s my passion. I believe in what I do, I make a difference, it matters, not only to me, but what I teach others will empower them to make a bigger difference, to make this country, and ultimately the world, a better place for all. I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I am here alone.
It’s not NY. I obviously miss NY dearly. NY is everywhere, in every channel, in every movie, in every series on TV, it’s even in the books I read. When I moved back to Caracas in 2000, after living in NYC for 3 years, I missed it so much it took me over a year to get over the cultural shock and to be able to feel at home in Venezuela again. I went back to NYC, every year, every summer, every vacation. It felt like home, even when I didn’t live there any more. I bet if I go back now, it would still feel like home.
I talked to Sophie today. My mom was out with her and showing her some pictures I had sent of my office. She said she missed me, so my mom called me so I could talk to her. “Je-Ji when are you coming?” was the first thing she said. I said I didn’t know, because really, I don’t. I don’t have any immediate plans to be back in NYC right now. I would like to, but I’m also a little scared that once there again, I won’t want to come back.
I need to get used to Chicago and the greatness of being here. My work is a big, huge plus, the reason why I’m here, but there are other great things about living here too. I now have a car. You would not believe how happy that makes me. You see, I absolutely LOVE to drive. Driving with music blasting relaxes me and distresses me to no end, it doesn’t matter if I’m stuck in traffic, driving has always done it for me. And in NY, there is no driving.
My new apartment is awesome. Yes, it’s not mine, yes I don’t have an elevator, a doorman or a gym/pool/sauna/deck in the rooftop, but it’s bigger, better illuminated, air actually circulates here and I feel I live in a mini-house of sorts. The noise from the street is practically nonexistent and it has this charm, which only buildings from the 1920s can have.
My neighborhood is great too. It has lots of restaurants, bars, little stores, supermarkets and drugstores all walking distance from me. I’m a few blocks from the lake and the Belmont Harbor and there is a yoga studio a few blocks West too. The L is close by as well, so if I needed to ride the train it’s easy enough to get to it, good weather providing.
I don’t know much of Chicago yet, but all I’ve seen so far, I’ve liked. I’ve liked it a lot. On a sunny, 70s, kind of day, Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen in my life, and I’ve seen pretty places, believe me, stunning places. It’s not Chicago. It’s the feeling of being here by myself.
When I was little we moved around a ton. But my dad always said, it doesn’t matter where we are, it doesn’t matter how many times we have to move and set camp somewhere else, as long as we are together, the four us, wherever we go. And that, I believe was what made it bearable, what gave us consistency and a sense of security. I feel like I don’t have that now. My security net is there, it’s just a little too far away for comfort.
When I moved to NYC in 1997, I got that same feeling. I was there alone. But I knew it was temporary. I knew my time in NYC, that time around, had an expiration date. After 3 years I would have to go back, so I was set to enjoy it as much as I could. This time it’s different. This time it’s indefinite, this time it’s for keeps. So I sit here and I cry, because being far away has its sad days.