June 6, 2011

in this city

The summer I turned 18, when High School was over and collage was beckoning but not quite here, I spent eight weeks as an exchange student on the Island of Sardinia off the west coast of Italy. I should have stayed a year but in my teenage angst, I couldn't stand the thought of my friends being ahead of me in collage, which was ludicrous because none of my high school friends we heading off to the same collage as me and I ended up graduating a year early anyway just because I could (overachiever much?)
That entire summer is a hazy, sparkly memory for me. In part because it was straight out of Giget Goes Abroad, complete with beach blankets, guitar melodies and handsome, exotic guys with names like Franco and Gian Carlo. Ahhh.....

Ooops, sorry, I wandered off there.

But the other reason that those months are a bit of a blur is that I was so freaking tired. All the time. The energy it took to just get through the day in a crowded house full of teenagers (four in the family including me, plus an assortment of friends who were ever present) with everyone speaking a language that I not only didn't know, but had never heard of before that summer (that would be Sardo, because they were Sardinians, not Italians, and don't try to convince them otherwise) that, despite the lunch and dinner time espresso, I was exhausted by the end of each day.

I'm finding that the same is true here. By the end of each day I'm so tired I can hardly think. Bodily tired from the walking and mentally tired from the noise and the signs and the people and the cars. And in the morning, after sleeping all night long, I'm still tired. I have a hard time getting up before 8:30 these days, although the dog needing to go out to pee usually gets me out of bed before it's too obscenely late.
I'd suspect yest another return of the dreaded Lyme but Will is just as tired as I am. Even the kids, even Briton who never seems to show signs of exhaustion, are tired by the end of the day. Retreating into their room to play quietly (or bicker loudly if they are really pooped) or just wanting to veg for a bit on the couch.

A friend of mine left just a few weeks before us to spend three or four months in the jungles of China with her three kids while her husband does some work there. I've been following her blog and marvelling at the fact that, while our circumstances are vastly different - her food options, for example, are very limited whereas I quite literally have a world of food right outside the door - the experiences are surprisingly similar. New York is not a foreign country, but then again, it kind of is. It is unlike anywhere else in the US. It's a place where tiny hardware stores that only take cash thrive and vacant lots become play spaces and the most fascinating person you've ever met might be living right above you without you ever knowing.

I've lived in a lot of different places, a lot of different kinds of places. Cities, towns, suburbs, ocean side villages, foreign countries, but none has been quite like the experience of living in this city. Already I have had moments of deep frustration and moments of deep love for this town. Before we moved here I told Will that I would probably grow to like New York, but I would never love it. But I'm not sure that's true anymore. It's exhausting and infuriating and I've never felt the need to take so many showers or said "Eew! Evelyn! Don't touch that" so many times. And yet, barely a week in, I can feel it creeping into my system, this place. I can only wonder what the next 12 months will bring and how I will feel at the end of it when I know we must leave....