On being worn down, facing a new city and
the prospect of constant flux.
There comes a point in every new city where everything becomes too much. It comes right after a few weeks of bliss where everything has a calm veil and you finally feel like you’ve found your feet again.
You start noticing the look on people’s faces on the early morning commute. The struggle to reset your life in a new place, in a new way becomes a matter of surrender. The question of who you want to be here, and whether that person will be any different from the one you were back home maintains a place in the back of your mind.
For me, it’s three months.
The third month is like a set of waves relentlessly holding you under. Again, and again, and again until you’re almost unconscious. This is usually when I try to run. In my case, I’m running to Germany for a weekend away from all the noise. Back with an old flatmate in a new place where no one knows me and nor do I. A place with fresh air and ideas and buildings and a language I cannot speak.
It could be anywhere; anywhere besides London.
I want a 4am wake up. Last minute rush to buy a fresh roll of Kodak Portra film. An hour suspended above it all in complete limbo.
The worst part comes with the constant attempt to label and rationalise it:
Is it my mental health?
Have I made enough friends?
Could I be doing more at work?
Was this the right decision?
Maybe I rushed into things too quickly?
Am I cut out for this at this age?
I already know the logical answer to these questions.
I am fine. I never give up, and I always make it through.
The logical part of me knows that this is the anticipated third month that must be endured. For the balmy summer nights, dancing with strangers I’ll never see again at small gigs, weekend trips to Spain, half marathons to run, afternoon adventures with friends captured on an analogue camera, dinners with flatmates, festivals in open fields and new friends to be made, new goals to achieve.
But for now, the third month demands a constant wave of exhausting challenges. Coping with a harsh new city, trying to create a life around a demanding 12 hour working day, expanding friendship circles and learning a higher definition of independence. There is an emergency exit button, but no part of me wants to press it.
I’m here for the long run, even if I have to cope with the transitory in between in the meantime.