I’m finally huddled up in my Brooklyn apartment, keeping warm and staying away from the blanket of snow that now covers the city of New York. I’ve been back in the Big Apple for about five days now but today’s the first day I have energy to breathe and reflect on my trip home to Seattle and what it feels like to be back in New York.
I love the Pacific Northwest. Often, I yearn for the slow pace of life, fresh air, nature, the occasional smiles of fellow public transportation passengers on the bus, the random coffee shop stranger conversations, coffee, 12th man pride on game day, the general environmentally conscious attitude, and the ability to slow down and chill.
I was the most excited I’ve ever been to go home this trip. I knew I needed a break from my never-ending fast paced struggle of a New York life to take a moment to breathe and take stock of what I’ve been doing. It was the first time I’ve been back since I unexpectedly started my new job in October so I was excited to catch up with friends, with family and with myself.
Time with family has become precious. My parents, aunties and uncles are getting older so I’ve been working on taking in as much history and wisdom as I can muster. I tried my best to speak only Tagalog to my parents. I took notes on the history of my family tree on both sides. I asked my parents to share more stories from his youth to hopefully share with future generations. The more that I am away, the more I realize that I am the legacy of my parents, who have sacrificed so much for me to be here in the United States. Their stories shape mine and I need to pay my respect to that.
I also reached a point when I realized I don’t want to return home yet.
During my stay, I visited the newly developed and bought house of one of my cousins. It was amazing to see my cousin take this big life step with his partner. It also stirred a lot of fear in me. The housing market in Seattle is insanely expensive, to the point where my cousin was priced out several suburbs south of Seattle. They were able to afford buying a home because they spent years living with their parents to save money.
Smart. Practical. And incredibly different from the path I’ve chosen to embark on.
I’m the only one among my generation of cousins who decided to leave the comforts of the Pacific Northwest for the gritty city of New York. It’s backwards too because I never wanted to live in New York (that’s it’s own story).
On my ride home from that house visit, I had a mini panic attack about my life choices. My cousins who are only four to five years older than me are home owners. Another one of my cousins mentioned how he lived off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for years to save money to eventually invest in the housing market. Talk about sacrifice and dedication.
I sunk into the passenger seat wondering what in the world am I doing in New York? Maybe I should go home. Before I took on a new job in New York, I had thought about moving to the Bay Area. I’m a summer baby who loves the heat and misses the chill vibes of San Francisco. But I didn’t take it because my need for an easy transition and some comfort got me to reluctantly say yes to a job and move into a nearby apartment. I still want to move to California someday but I’ve been wondering how and when?
The past few months, I’ve been mulling over the idea of applying to another structured volunteer program to take me back to the West Coast. That, or move back to Seattle. I shared these ideas with my father who immediately dismissed them, saying it was best that I gain more experience and save money. I tried time and time again to justify this idea to my dad. It felt similar to all my attempts the year before to get him to accept the fact I was doing a volunteer program and opting out of a year to make money for myself. He kept asking me why am I so adamant about using a volunteer program to come back to the West Coast?
Then it hit me.
I was scared. I feared that when it came time, I wouldn’t have enough experience, connections or know-how to move back across the country. I feared failure. I didn’t trust myself. It felt much easier to give into the comfort of a structured volunteer program or fall into a comfortable and complacent routine at home.
Now, I realize ease, comfort and complacency is not what I want to be at this point in my life. I moved to New York because I wanted to be challenged. My parents sacrificed so much so that I could have a life filled with greater comfort…but as a result, I feel like I have not really lived. Like I have a greater purpose than simply getting a job to make ends meet so I can settle down and have a family someday.
I’m not done with growing. That’s what draws me to stay in New York or even to move elsewhere before landing back in Seattle. I’m working to learn to heal, to trust myself and to build up my confidence again.
Thank you, home, for reminding me of why I’m still in New York.