"You cannot carry anyone's pain for them. You must remember that everyone has their own path they must walk."
In February of 2010 I made one of my usual trips to New York. One night, I made plans to meet my best friend half way between him and I at a train station. I hadn't seen him in a few years due to a fight we had and my own stubbornness. I remember walking down the stairs of the station and my eyes swallowing every piece of him. It's funny how you can find home 3,000 miles away from your physical one. On our way to meet up with mutual friends he exploded with words and dreams as he always does and presented me with a dream I had had that I never imagined being able to actually touch.
A few years prior in the height of my Paulo Coelho obsession I read his book, The Pilgrimage. What an experience! I've always existed as equal parts city girl and nature faerie and yet mostly been surrounded by people that will only camp in cabins, let alone cross the entirety of Spain on foot. So when he told me he was going and asked me to come with him, my soul was literally torn in half. Moving back to SF from NY 8 months prior hadn't proved as lucrative as I thought it would be. My bar tending shifts had been replaced and I just wasn't making the money I was accustomed to. Also, I had decided that I had given up on NY too easily. If I really wanted to stretch myself, I'd have to try again and not even consider moving back an option no matter what happened. Yet as it stood, I only had enough money to choose one. Move to New York, see where that led and be able to see him along with everyone else as often as I liked, or buy my ticket to Spain and spend 2 months there with him at the end of which I'd return to SF. I chose New York.
It's a decision I regretted from the second I stepped off the plane. But looking back I realize that New York was my pilgrimage. When I think back to 16 year old me walking through the streets of lower Manhattan, I realize I’ve never known why I felt that initial tug to live there, just that it was of utmost importance and something that couldn’t be ignored. I seemed to be able to inhale deeper there and over the next few years my heart leaped with every mention of the city.
Reflecting on the girl who stepped off the plane 11 years ago when I first moved, I'm reminded of how brave and adventurous my heart is. I leapt from everything familiar into the complete unknown without a soul beside me. Until recently, I always saw that move as a failure considering it only lasted for 3 months. Time is no longer a deciding factor for me though as the end creation is what ripples onwards. New York may not have lasted for me on that go around because while I thought I knew how to live, I hadn't yet learned how to die.
Death is an absolutely essential part of life. Throughout the years we accumulate so much stuff. Baggage. Ideas and beliefs we hold about ourselves and others and life. It begins at birth and when I first moved to my city of shadows, I didn't know how to transform myself. I only knew that my shining gem, what I was good at, at that point, was science, education and dance. I was too young to realize there were so many other parts of myself to be explored. Looking back, even then, the shadows lurked. One of my roommates was a dancer on broadway - a dream I once held, that I never fulfilled. That same roommate also introduced me to the pro side of MAC as she had her performer discount with them. She was both my past dream that I never lived and a glimpse into my future though I didn't realize it at the time.
Older and hopefully a bit wiser, this time around I learned how to use what I knew, and build upon and transform what I was to get what I wanted. Now, while I can't say I feel entirely successful in accomplishing what I wanted while there, the journey made me confront nearly every single fear I had and even those I didn't know existed. New York placed a huge mirror deep into the bowels of my soul and made my darkness a reality. I came face to face with pieces of myself I didn't want to believe existed. And at the end of it all, I'm still here. A little bruised, a little shaken but aware. Now that I can readily see what I refused to before, I can decide whether or not I want to keep those pieces or not. Those pieces are luggage, baggage. While some are pretty accessories that I can adorn myself with from time to time, there's others that serve absolutely no purpose any longer. Had I not been brought face to face with them they would have continued to ride along like barnacles feeding on everything that my soul devours without really offering anything of sustenance in return.
As much as it still to this day pains me, I'm not so sure I would have faced as many shadows had I chosen 2 months in Spain over 3.5 years in New York. Only now that I know my shadows, do I feel like I can walk beside and play with the sun.