The toughest thing about being in a new place is the lack of perspective.
I live in New York City and I have no perspective on this experience yet and won’t have it for some time, because that’s how perspective works.
I look back on my twelve-plus years in Chicago, I see eras. There were the First Years, the rough ones, with their questionable choices and misbehaviors (all with the best of intentions, of course.) Those years contained the Poetry Years, thank goodness, or I might not’ve survived at all. That era, with all its earnest youthful disregard gave way to a better time: the Affianced Years. That was pleasant. I had found someone I cared for deeply and was enough of an adult to pair up in a real way. My foolish choices were slashed down to (almost) nil. And I wasn’t a waitress anymore. Right before the Affianced Years began, I began to be able to make my living as a full-time writer-performer and I clung desperately to that fact. The proclamation was (and has remained) a cornerstone of my entire identity. It probably matters too much, but for me, I can’t do it any other way.
The Marriage Years immediately followed the Affianced ones (they’ll do that) and they overlapped entirely with the era known as When I Was Sick. (I was diagnosed less than a month after I walked down the aisle; surgery was a month later — to the day? — of my wedding.) But inside those years were the Best Theater Years I ever had, making art with the Neo-Futurists.
And then The Divorce. And then Downtown Me. And then I left.
Anyway, all this is to paint — mostly for myself, I have to admit — the picture of what happened back in Illinois. Broad strokes, yes, but it’s chronologically correct.
I’m in the First Years again.
And it’s great here, and I’m not the twenty-one-year-old girl (good grief!) that I was when I had my first round of First Years, but I know full well that I have a whole lot of perspective to make. I will get lost a dozen times. I will be mistaken about the character of this or that person. I will embarrass myself. I will not find my favorite shops for at least 6-12 months. There’s no way I can learn the shortcuts: I don’t even know the longcuts.
I’m not exactly bummed, but tonight, I know too much about not knowing anything at all.