Going to Georgia has really made me appreciate places.
I guess I should say rather that traveling to a far away land, leaving my home and friends and family behind, has had the desired effect of causing me to appreciate the things I have in life more and focus less on my problems and on what I lack.
I’m torn tonight. Part of it is that I had a really good time seeing my friends – many of them people I’ve known for over a decade, now – and I know that for almost all of them, it will be at least six months, maybe longer, before I see them again. Part of it is that I didn’t get to spend as much time with everyone as I’d wanted. Part of it is that there are some people I didn’t get to see at all. And then, on the other hand, I pick up my bottle of Nabeghlavi, and I see that it’s almost finished, and I think that it’s okay because tomorrow I’m going back and I can have more, and it just tears at something in me.
I mean, am I dwelling too much on beverages if I say that I didn’t really miss Snapple, or Vitamin Water, or Vanilla Coke, my entire time in Georgia, but I miss Nabeghlavi after two weeks? That’s got to mean something. I’m looking forward to getting back to my house, back to work, back to my Georgian friends. I’m making plans to move forward in life – plans for study, plans to maybe find some additional income, plans to socialize more and be more involved in the community. My vacation is over, and I’m glad, because it’s time to get back to my life, but at the same time, every vacation that isn’t too long leaves you feeling bittersweet, by definition, it leaves you wanting more.
And I could have had a life in New York. Probably a stressful, harmful life, but that’s not what you see when you look around at a place on vacation. As I saw more friends and passed through more of my old haunts, more memories came back to me of all the good times, of all the hopes and dreams that I had for those people and those places, and something about giving up all of those things is scary and painful. Just the other night I took the train from Brooklyn, and the sight of the New Utrecht Avenue train station on a cold winter’s night with snow on the ground brought me back to the last time I was in that neighborhood – back to cold nights filled with bikram yoga and hot chocolate with cinnamon schnapps and warm toast with butter and honey and curling up together on the couch to watch Mythbusters – and I’ll always cherish those memories, but of course they can never come back, and of course it’s a two hour commute from that cozy little corner of Brooklyn back to my parents’ house in Glendale, and of course that girl has long since moved out of that neighborhood anyway, and so even if I actually was in New York, none of it would do me any good. You can never cross the same river twice, they say.
Before I went to Georgia in August, I took a little walk around the neighborhood where I grew up. Middle Village, Queens. There was a hill that some of the kids used to call Machine-gun hill, because you could ride your bike down it and go really fast – I walked down that hill, and it just seemed so small and so much less steep than I remembered. I went to the corner store where I used to buy snacks and drinks and cold cuts every day, and it was rearranged and under new ownership and not particularly friendly. Even the house I used to live in has gotten something of a face lift. I stared at my old best friend’s house – someone I used to play with every day, except Friday nights when he had to be in for Shabbas dinner, someone who I now haven’t seen in at least ten years, I think – and I wondered if his family still lived there, if he and I would have anything to talk about. I messaged him on facebook once and he never responded.
We are always leaving things behind. Part of the wonder of the new Information Age is that we never really have to fully let go – we can always hang onto that thread, that chance of finding someone on facebook or keeping in touch with far away friends through email and twitter and skype – and yet we do have to make the tough choices. I can’t keep up with all five hundred of my facebook friends – some of whom I’ve only met once, some of whom I don’t remember, some of whom post primarily in languages other than English. Livejournal was easier, although now it is mostly dead. And of course there’s this blog, that most of my friends don’t even read, because no matter how much they may enjoy my company, someone else’s stories from far away are rarely a priority in life. We are always leaving things behind.