has for the most part worn off. It began sometime as I was walking back from a kind of Hallowe’en-plus-going-away party for the friend of a friend, leaving (I presume) for Germany. What began as a crowded evening in front of a coffee shop in the village combined with the throngs of devils and superheroes to become raucous street revelry complete with drumming and dancing.
Such moments, in which you can see the ways in which many people are the same, also serve to show you the ways in which you are different. And (as was discussed in the most banal fashion in a recent class), such differences are real, though it’s culturally uncouth to say that here in the U.S. for some reason.
We’re not all the same. In fact, we are all quite different… and it is difficult to try to transition from one culture to the next in any way, whether the transition is temporary and instantaneous or much more gradual and permanent. It gives me a deep appreciation for my dad’s perseverance and what must be the truly amazing reservoir of openness and optimism in him, something that I never credited to my father before. He came from a different (and in many ways opposite) culture and geography as a young man and stayed in the U.S., took a western wife, learned to appreciate and enjoy television and pizza, basketball and pop music, and (more or less) happily raised children with green mowhawks and clubbing addictions.
Would I have been—or would I be—able to do the same in order to seize some kind of happiness? Do I have such a measure of faith and trust in me? I’m not so sure.
And in knowing that, I also know that I unless things change, I have lost—lost the entire game. And the time for making changes is running out. I have to figure out how to reach out and take happiness before I’ve missed my chance.
After the cafe, after the village, after the dancing and yelling, when it was time to go (happily I am at least aware enough to know when it is time to go—the anthropologist in me isn’t completely suppressed by the American in me), I took to the streets and walked north on Sixth Avenue through an endless jungle of garbage and drunken revelers to Times Square, radically alone the entire way and maybe more “in New York” than I’ve been since I got here.
I bit my lip, sighed, and got on the 1 train, knowing again more about myself than I’m really happy to know, and enough about others to develop a certain longing for something that I may never manage to touch.
I amend the previous statement, actually. I have touched it… but of course, having touched, one always wants more, whether or not one can (realistically, with self-awareness) reasonably expect to have it—ever.
I have ultimately to leave this nation—the only one I have ever really known—behind. In doing so, I will also be much farther away from my family and friends. That makes me deeply sad. But it is also the only way I will ever be happy.