Coming full circle
Last week, I went to Las Vegas for work. It was a hectic week: recovering from the flu, managing my first trade show, squeezing in a 24-hour visit with my mom (complete with shopping, dinner and a Cirque de Soleil show!). Busy as it was, I managed to soak up a tiny bit of sunshine by the pool, people-watch on the Strip, enjoy quiet nights all by lonesome in a hotel room the size of my entire three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
The last time I was in Las Vegas was the summer of 2012: it was the starting point for our road trip across the USA. I was thrilled by the possibility of moving to New York City, but completely unsure as to how things would work out. It’s been like a complicated puzzle: some pieces almost seem to fit, but you realize you’re pushing a bit too hard: my first two apartments (cramped in the Upper West Side, precarious loft on the wrong side of Williamsburg), endless interviews for a job I didn’t even want, being fooled by status and titles and illusions. But when it finally fits, it just feels seamless.
It’s incredible how far things have come in those eight months. When I saw the New York, New York resort on the Strip this time, I couldn’t help but feel a bit homesick: I see the Chrysler Building when I come out of the subway each morning, while the Empire State Building towers over my window at work. The cheesy cutouts of the resort just don’t do the real thing justice.
And as much as I enjoyed the desert sunshine and mild spring temperatures, I missed my bed, my friends, my life. It’s funny how quickly we’re able to adapt to a new place, to create our own little life in the midst of millions of other little lives.
When I was interviewed on my friend Lindsey’s blog while I was living in Australia, she asked me what felt most like home–San Francisco, Nice, Melbourne: “They’ve all felt like home at one point or another; I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to adapt so easily in both France and Australia. I’m much more of an expat than a traveler and I think that is because I love creating a home: becoming a regular in a café, knowing the public transportation lines like the back of my hand, experimenting with local ingredients. Northern California will always be special because it’s where my family and friends are but when I say I’m going home, it’s where my key fits that week.”
It makes me wonder how much we have the ability to change, the capacity to grow and learn and look at a place in a completely different light. I visited Spain for the first (and only) time in 2010, and was less than impressed–yet when I consider the places I’d like to go next, I’m drawn to giving Spain a second chance: visiting the heart of cultural Madrid, or on the beaches of Mallorca. I wonder if I should go back to Italy now that I’m no longer 18: will I be able to enjoy it more with a bit of perspective? It’s what worries me most about the possibility of moving back to Australia: if I’ve changed this much, it’s inevitable that the city I loved has changed too.
But I think that’s one of the things that I love most about travel: nothing is ever static. You can never go back and have the same experience twice, whether you’re in the same place or with the same people or during the same time of year. Life is constantly changing, presenting us with new challenges and giving us new opportunities.
Las Vegas the second time was more fun than the first, but the third time felt like a brand-new experience. Perhaps because I wasn’t there just to party; perhaps, because as I mentioned to my friend, I was less inclined to feel pressured to go out when I knew there were clubs and restaurants and pretty people of the same caliber waiting for me in New York City.
It’s funny how life works: if someone had told me when I was in Las Vegas last summer that I would be back in a mere eight months, I would have scoffed–and likely wouldn’t have believed it if they said it would be on business. Seeing New York, New York this time was a stark reminder–all of those cookie cutter skyscrapers in the desert sky–that all you can do is live each day and see where it takes you.