I know exactly what I like: watching the sun rise over the ocean. Morning yoga. Saltwater swims. Wearing nothing but a bikini, a sarong, a pair of flip-flops. Reading in the sunshine. A crisp, cold beer. Watching the sun set over the ocean.
Namely, I like the beach. I like sunshine. I like pineapple and pina coladas. For the past two years, I’ve built a life where I could run my toes through the sand (or the pebbles) and stare out at the endless ocean horizon every day. I loved afternoon bike rides along the Mediterrean in Nice, I adored standing on my balcony in St Kilda and seeing palm trees stretch over the bay.
Even though I love the beach, I also love city life. Street art. Sidewalk cafes. Gallery openings and closing time at the bar. Libraries, revolving doors, winding staircases, art deco movie theatres. Fancy restaurants and rooftop cocktails.
Moving to New York City was the ultimate personal challenge, an opportunity to throw myself squarely out of my comfort zone. Skyscrapers and subways, snow and sleet. I’ve grown up wearing flip-flops and cardigans through the winter: boots and scarves have always been a fashion accessory, not a necessity. It’s a return to a (flexible) 9 to 5, a steady paycheck, a life where Friday and Monday actually mean something. Every day is a potential “Metropolitan Diary” moment.
I could easily fall into a laid-back life in Hawaii, Bali or even Sydney, a life that revolves around waves and the weather. I could be bronzed and toned, tanning and stand-up paddleboarding. I could be content.
But how boring would life be if we merely settled for content? If we accepted the first thing that made us happy? If we never tried to see if something could make us happier? If I had settled at contentment, I never would have moved past booking flights to Paris. I never would have gotten out of France, out of Europe. If I had accepted the quiet contentment of my life in Melbourne, I wouldn’t have had three purely wonderful (and extremely challenging) months in Southeast Asia. If I had accepted a job and an apartment in San Francisco, I never would have driven across the USA.
Without the bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet. I won’t lie: there are days when I wonder why exactly I chose New York City. When my alarm blares miserably in the morning, when I feel like no gloves, socks, hat and jacket will block the cold (and it’s not even winter yet), when I pay $12 for a vegetarian green curry (albeit it does get delivered to my door). There are moments when I consider giving it all up and throwing everything in a backpack again.
But then there’s the crash of the morning sunshine on a skyscraper, the hustle of pressed suits and clicking heels on the sidewalk, the crisp blue sky over autumn leaves in a thousand luminous hues. Jay-Z said it best: it’s the concrete jungle that dreams are made of, the streets will make you feel brand-new and big lights will inspire you.
So, New York: game on. Challenge accepted. I’m deliciously out of my comfort zone and enjoying (almost) every second of it.