Up in the Air
"I booked a lot of flights in 2016, trying to get away from myself and my life, self-convinced that airplanes travel faster than sadness, and maybe, just maybe, if I jetted out fast and frequently enough it couldn't catch up with me."
Neither I nor anyone who I know would describe me as emotional and certainly not outwardly so. This is true in both personal and professional circles. A recent performance review corroborates, describing me "completely unflappable in any situation" whether crisis is absent or present. The only place that without fail, gets me in my feelings, is airports.
In what might be the world's most obvious metaphor, nothing makes me think about where I'm headed (or not) like an airport, where all you're there to do is go someplace. 2016 was a year full of personal turmoil and professional boredom–but the biggest thing, and looking back the only thing that still matters–is my dad passing away suddenly in a manner I wish on no one. I was at a loss for what to do, so at the time, so the only immediate solution I could think of was to stay in constant motion. I began booking flights, trying to get away from myself and my life, self-convinced that airplanes travel faster than sadness, and maybe, just maybe, if I jetted out fast and frequently enough it couldn't catch up with me.
For the most part, I was able to keep my emotions in check (read: repressed) until I got to an airport. That’s where the floodgates and literal gates opened, in every major airport in the U.S.: LAX, LGA, JFK, Dulles, BWI, RDU, and MSP. It didn’t matter if it was a departure or an arrival and perhaps the anonymity is what made me comfortable enough to let go.
I needed a complete change and so the natural solution seemed to be to move. I narrowed it down to New York City and Los Angeles without a particular affinity for one over the other. Los Angeles was fun. New York was fun. I’d spent time in both places and enjoyed them equally. I spent months polling everybody in every state I know, “Should I move to New York or LA?” It seemed so make-or-break that the thought of making a decision made me not want to make one at all. After all, choosing one would steer my life in one direction or another, physically and figuratively, for better or for worse. But when you're at a loss, the city of big dreams where anything is possible seems like the best option compared to Los Angeles, the city of broken dreams.
2016 ended with me moving out of my apartment on the last day of my poetic lease that ran out on New Year's Eve. Four days later, I started 2017 by boarding a one-way flight to New York City with no job and no apartment waiting for me. I had an idea of what I wanted to do in New York, a place I never really wanted to live, and one that I was always excited to leave after visiting friends.
Fast forward to May 2019, two-and-a-half years into New York and I'm still here. I, as they say, made it. Looking back I’m sure if I went to Los Angeles, I wouldn’t have stayed for more than six months, one year, tops. I moved to New York for my career, but it gave me something else. It made me whole again, allowed me to doubt my self-doubts, and give me an answer to the questions, "Am I good enough?" "Will I ever be happy again?"