Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Accelerated Exit

The process of moving, in brief:

Step 1: Commit -- check.
Step 2: Get ready to go -- check.
Step 3: OK, go -- oh, I actually am doing this?

Now, imagine that you were moving halfway across the world.  To China.  You were in the midst of leaving your first non-finance job (the first job you've ever loved), saying goodbye to great friends both new and old.  Your entire family put aside their own personal sagas to fly to New York City to say goodbye.

This move represents a wide variety of new beginnings: a new career, a new phase of a relationship, a new location, a new way of life.  You have 24 hours left.  What would you do with it?  How would you spend those last 24 hours in a city you've grown to love, a city where you've built a life over the last 4 years?

Now take those plans, and throw them down the garbage chute.  An apocalyptic hurricane is headed straight for New York City and you have to drop everything and leave 24 hours early to avoid the storm.  Accelerate all those goodbyes, pack up all your shit, wipe off the tears, and get the hell out of there.

Yep, that's what happened.  It seems even more ridiculous to see in writing.  I mean, there was also this little T11 typhoon that came along last time I was visiting in Hong Kong this summer -- the worst the city has seen in 14 years.  Maybe I should start fancying myself akin to Halle Berry in X-Men and add "conjuring apocalyptic weather" to my CV.

I'm not sure I can even sift through the emotions I felt having to give up my last 24 hours in NYC, but it definitely was a sense of loss.  Since this move popped up on my radar months ago, I didn't think much of looking backwards and missing where I was coming from.  Somewhat surprisingly, I didn't question the decision.  I was mostly just excited for what was to come.  But in that moment, where I had to truly detach from all my plans, all my pre-determined motions for saying goodbye, that hurt.  Now I was actually going to have to experience these last moments for real, with no predescribed schedule of motions and feelings to go through.  I was forced to be truly present in my exit.  And let me tell you, that's pretty fucking hard.

It's just as hard to be present in my arrival.  Though it has played it many times in my head, there really is no montage of memories playing in the background as I lean my head against the window and watch the ground draw closer and the wheels of the plane touch the ground.  Upbeat inspiring music doesn't turn on as I step out of the taxi from the airport and gaze up at the endless skyscrapers in this new and foreign city.  Life doesn't shift into slow motion, nor does the soundtrack turn epically romantic as I am reunited with my love after months of being apart.  My hair does not blow perfectly in the wind as I laugh and he picks me up and twirls me around and kisses me desperately, telling me how I am even more beautiful than he remembered.  Damn, I was thinking some Mumford would fit in quite nicely right there... "I Will Wait" seems appropriate, no?

But it felt nearly as good to feel a genuine smile creep over my face as relief takes over and I look up see him waiting beyond the exit of the train station.  I'm not alone, a big hug is only a few feet away, and he can help me with all these damn suitcases I brought.  After multiple attempts to jam the luggage cart through the exit, I finally got to him and the moment became reality.  Being present for that was fantastic, too, but I'm not sure that I will ever stop half expecting the music to kick in.  Are those remnants of expectation a bad thing if they don't necessarily translate into disappointment?  Or, could the moment actually genuinely be that beautiful and epic on its own if the expectations didn't even exist?