For the past few days, I’ve had three songs stuck in my head on repeat:
“New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra
“NYC” from the Broadway musical, Annie (aka one of my favorite musicals of all-time, especially at age five)
“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys.
Why, you ask?
BECAUSE THAT’S MY FIRST STOP STATESIDE. And although it’s not technically my home in that I don’t legally reside there, it feels like home (and I’d love for it to be someday).
I could barely contain my excitement during my flight. When we finally touched down at JFK, I had a huge crazy person grin on my face. The sun was setting and as I made my way from the terminal and entered the fray of the MTA to get into the city, as I heard not only English but Russian and Mandarin and thick Bronx accents, I saw Chelsea Papaya and Doughnut Plant and my crazy person grin fit right in.
The past eight months have been an incredible experience, and I sometimes still can’t believe that I did it. Lots of rumination and reflection and insight will come out of it still, and you can expect a lot of lists and favorite five posts and other schtuff to come out of it, too.
But for now I can only focus on the small things about my homeland that I am thankful for to have again surrounding me.
Like real milkshakes.
Also, I have eaten donuts and bagels and bought jeggings (which I am officially obsessed with, albeit a little late in the game). Shops are open long hours. I can wear whatever I want outside and nobody takes a second look.
Wait staff are more friendly, I don’t have to do any more mental math to see how much money I’m
wasting spending on chai lattes.
I can use Spotify/Hulu/Netflix and my cell phone works. AND I GET TO CHANGE MY WARDROBE.
I know all of these things are generally petty and superficial, but oh well. I count myself pretty lucky to live in a country where all these things are around.
Every time I travel, I realize how much I take for granted the fact that I can say pretty much whatever I want about my government, and that it’s not insane to strike up a conversation with a stranger on a corner (well, in New York sometimes people might look at you like it is, but you know what I mean). I take for granted our access to information–did you know Macy’s is a wifi hotspot now?!–and how easy it is to eat foreign cuisine because there are people from literally everywhere in this country.
Not to mention, there’s nothing quite like laughing in person with your family members and hugging your friends in real life. Skype and Facebook and GChat can only do so much.
The U.S. is by no means perfect. I know this. But, as Dorothy Gale once said, “There’s no place like home.”