The past two nights, I’ve stumbled through NYC pretending that I fit in, ignoring–or hiding–that I still feel like an outsider. I stop extra long at busy intersections–at one point so long that a feisty West Village pedestrian smacks into the back of me without a word of “Oops” or apology. I’m in the way. But I can’t explain to them that I recently spent five weeks with traffic as one of my biggest contenders. Before you leave, you avoid telling your parents or husband that car accidents are the biggest–and pretty frequent–cause of pilgrim injuries, or worse (Hi dad!). I scuttered across a few too many highways with a heavy backpack because the yellow arrows told me to. But alas, here I am, a safer New Yorker.
I am also used to being the “other” in a city. I see women walking toward me with makeup and fashionable clothing, and my brain still tells me that I am an outsider in hand-washed hiking pants, a faded blue shirt, and a nylon headband covering the heat rash on my neck. I know I’m not, I’m one of the normals now. But that’s the issue, I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like them and I know I’m not like them.
The true issue is figuring out what the hell you do with this confused energy right after you get back from a trip of this sort. This happened to me last time as well, and honestly, I thought it had to do more with life events at the time, and not a pilgrim-reintegration syndrome, an issue I just made up all on my own.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total mess by any means. In reality, I’m sitting at my new homemade desk (because I now write from home for a living, yay!)–with some calming folk music, a hot mug of freshly made coffee, and even a small oil diffuser that calmly changes colors every few seconds. I could not be in more of a comfortable, introvert-friendly, privileged scenario than right now. So why am I such an emotionally stunted grouch half the day?