Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One Year Later

It's been exactly a year since I returned to the US. I've been in this country the entire time. I think a couple of my friends had bets riding on that, so congrats to whoever won those.

The year has been the best answer I seemed able to come up to the following question: "If you accomplish your life's dream at age 23, what do you do next?"

Choose a new dream, I guess.

I remember at one point in college hearing that a high school friend of ours was spending her summer acting and waiting tables in New York City. That sounded pretty good to me.

So, above you can see a wall of my Manhattan one-bedroom apartment. Almost eight months since I moved here, and I've just been cast in my third show. I'm not waiting tables. Sort of tried it as a banquet server briefly, didn't like it much, got jobs elsewhere. I just got home from tutoring a brilliant student from a wealthy family in physics and math. Between tutoring gigs like that and some office work in a voiceover recording studio, I'm able to pay rent and occasionally do fun things. Like skipping town with my girlfriend and some of our friends to see Atlantic City. I think one or two of our friends drank more than I did over the course of my whole trip, and that's including Oktoberfest. I digress.

Nobody seems to know what to make of what I did. It's a bit like a veteran coming home from a war. It's amazing how nobody ever seems to ask you about what it was like. I tell people what I did and they're clearly impressed, but nobody knows what to say next. So they drop the topic and go back to gossiping about what happened on Facebook, complaining about their work/school, or talking about something else that's actually current and relevant to them.

I don't want to be the guy whose stories all come from last year. I think a lot of my life has been driven by my innate fear of being boring. I don't honestly think I'm in much danger of that anymore, but when you set the bar at a certain height for "interesting," your perspective gets a little bit warped.

But it's been a year since I've had to think about being a foreigner anywhere. I mean, in a lot of small ways, I'll always feel like a foreigner anywhere I go now. I haven't been home recently or long enough anywhere to really claim native stats. But the people here mostly speak my language, use the same measurement units I do, are used to the same political system and if not the same customs (I still refuse to accept how hard it is to recycle in this town or what kinds of comments about race and gender pass as acceptable), at least most cultural stuff here is kind of similar.

So, I'm an American in America, and have been for a year.