I knew this day was coming and, in many ways, I looked forward to the end of my service term with great anticipation. But, now that it’s here, I’m dragging my feet. As my dear friend told me the other day, “Isn’t it crazy that one day we will look back on this whole experience and say, ‘That was this thing I did once’?” Those words hit me like a wall.
I thought back on other powerful experiences in my life, like my month in Morocco and my semester in DC, and how, at the time, it felt like the world would be like that forever. It seemed like those relationships would always be that solid and those emotions of wonder and fulfillment would always be that strong. But time moved along and, before I knew it, I was looking back on those experiences as stories, hardly even things that really happened.
Although that thought saddens me, I also find it peculiar and refreshing that time has also weakened the intensity of the difficulties I faced in Morocco and DC. With time’s healing power, the sexual harassment, food poisoning, loneliness, and depression no longer taste so bitter and I can look back on those lived experience in an overall good light.
I feel that the same thing will happen as I look back on this experience in a year or two; I will be saddened by the beautiful things I have lost but also encouraged that I have overcome an intensely difficult situation. This year will live on in my memory as another piece of the intricate puzzle of my life. So farewell New York City, hello Philadelphia. Whether I’m ready for it or not, let the next stage begin.
I couldn’t conclude this final New York City post without a few things I will miss so here is a list of loves in no particular order:
1. The subway. I have a love/hate relationships with the good old NYC transit system. Love: subway performers, getting places quickly, air conditioned cars. Hate: uncomfortable situations with strangers, crowded cars, “Ladies and gentlemen we are being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher.”
2. Biking. I still am in awe at how quickly bikes can take me where I need to go. Biking is the fastest, most convenient, most thrilling way to get to many places in the city. Period.
3. The street grid. While I don’t like Manhattan very much I do love that nearly the entire island is on a grid making it super easy to get yourself un-lost. The grid helped me in a many an unpleasant scenario. (Note: smart phones also help one find their way but, alas, I do not own one).
4. The Menno and the MMF. I’ve said this before so really no need to elaborate but I love my housemates, love my church community. Boom.
5. Close proximity to everything. Washing machine breaks? No problem, there’s a laundromat around the corner. No groceries? No problem, there are about six options within a 15 minute walking radius. Want to go for a run? The East River is just blocks away.
6. Social Justice and Activism. Everywhere I look there are protests, marches, and amazing people working for social justice. I know these things happen everywhere but they are so easy to get involved in here in New York City. The people united will never be defeated.
7. Cultural diversity. I’ve experienced so many different cultures from neighborhood to neighborhood in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. You can literally walk across the world by just walking a few blocks.
There are so many more things I can add but bless your heart for already reading this much nonsense. Thanks for diving into this journey with me!