Nostalgia and Adaptation


I have been having these recurring, viscerally painful moments of missing the West Coast lately, especially Tahoe. It’s these intense moments of remembrance of little details, like walking across the street from my apartment to go to Raley’s, or driving my beat up old Subaru (‘Subie’ or ‘Subarita’) down the winding, bumpy one lane mountain road to work, or biking into town on the bike trail to go to the library. And there are other things, like missing my family and missing my nieces and nephews growing up.

What’s even more strange, however, has been that I keep having these visions of New Mexico. I have never lived there and have only passed through, and maybe it’s just that I’m envisioning some idealized fantasy of dry heat as opposed to humid heat (as I sit here immersed in a pool of sweat) but for whatever reason, I am dreaming of terra cotta colors, green chile burritos, mountains, and cacti. And a lifestyle of space, light, and quietude.

I think the meaning of these visions and remembrances is that I am beginning to realize just how out of touch with myself I have become. At least, the parts of myself that I had more clearly defined in other contexts. I have always been a kind of lonely chameleon, adapting in superficial ways to my environment while trying to understand myself outside of that immediate context. But lately, my habits and modes of existence have been so thoroughly alien to the way I’ve lived most of my adult life that I find myself struggling with my identity and where I am. Part of that struggle necessitates nostalgia and fantasizing. I am shedding my past, shedding the parts of me that were defined by other worlds. And so I miss those contexts where I was comfortable, where I had established myself in some way. And I yearn for some immediate context where I can be what I see as myself, wherein I can stretch my wings and be comfortable.

I think that here in this wildly new environment, I have been sitting back and trying to adapt and to survive. I haven’t had time to be myself. I think you can see this reflected in my writing from this period of my life when you compare it to past posts. I am less reflective, a little more superficial, more passive-aggressive, less spiritual. Maybe, I don’t know.

As I come out of that hole of survival mode and begin to feel a little more established, I am taking a look around and then looking down at myself and wondering who the fuck I still am. I have been taking the city in, compromising with it, selling myself to it. And now that I am coming somewhat to terms with it, I am able to take a clearer look at myself and who I am within this new context. But not quite yet. The vision is blurry. I am still tied to my idealizations of my past self.

In any case, here I am, still struggling to adapt to this city. I am slowly branching out, putting down roots, finding my place, but I’ve got a lot of work to do.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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