Discover more from science fiction engineer
Why I'm Leaving New York City
All the cities I’ve lived in have a distinct energy. New York City has the most intense and almost electric. The buzz of millions of striving individuals is bottled up in crowded streets and subway cars. Energy bound up in the constant flood of advertisements and stimuli vying for your limited attention. Over time, I’ve let that energy seep into me and given some back.
The same energy which draws me to the city also insidiously affects me. A New York state of mind. Being constantly “on” leaves me feeling both drained and anxious. A low-grade, background anxiety that is almost entirely physical. A feeling of tightness and being on edge. These feelings are most noticeable when I’ve left the city for a few days or upon returning to it.
When leaving the city, I feel the slow release of that built-up tension and awareness of the anxiety held at all times. Upon returning, screws tighten in my chest.
We are all quite skilled at adapting to our current conditions. I can go months in the city without noticing this sensation until suddenly it overwhelms me, leaving me feeling breathless and claustrophobic. Keeping up with the relentless pace eventually gives way to a gritty jadedness that lets me get through each day with minimal conscious effort. I no longer feel like I’m living in the city, more that over time I’ve become so adapted to it that my instincts can carry me through almost on autopilot.
The heaping piles of trash and scurrying rats that once disturbed and amazed me, now blend into the background. My legs mindlessly carry me to the optimal spots on the subway platform. I have grown hard to the pleas of the desperate and downtrodden. I’ve adopted the New York attitude that nothing can phase me. A sort of voluntary dissociation that lets you cope with some of the everyday horrors but also means you miss out on fully living.
Then, a sharp pull back into reality.
A man I had never seen before crept up behind me in Chinatown. He punched me in the side of the head. My glasses flew off onto the sidewalk. I couldn’t see as he taunted me with incoherent words from a few yards away before slinkinginto the night.
Somehow I eventually came to terms with this incident, but it remains another moment woven into the unease I feel while living here.
I’m looking to reset and find a different kind of energy and to find some new places and people that will challenge the way I’ve been moving through the world. My first stops will likely be as different from New York as I can find though I’ll still be carrying some of that energy from New York with me through this journey.
3 Things I’m consuming
Adaptation - A meta movie about the frustrations of adapting a book to film. Managing emotions are an underrated part of bringing new things in to the world. When the thing we’re creating does not match our perceived bar for quality, we give up. There’s skill in managing that frustration to create something anyway.
Free Food for Millionaires - Min Jin Lee’s debut novel that feels like every character could have a novel written about them but the spotlight rests upon the Korean-American character, Casey. The main character’s pride, stemming from her culture and family, serves as a barrier between her and the other characters.
Shoe Dog - Memoir by Phil Knight about the creation of Nike. A fun and entertaining story but one of my main takeaways has been (as it always is): right place, right time, and right person. Nike succeeded by entering the US market during a period of globalization in Asia through its fanatic and dedicated founder.
Thanks for reading Billy’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.