I am a Canadian experiencing culture shock in Canada.
I’ve recently moved back to this giant beautiful beast of a country after living in New York City for six years. You might be thinking that six years is not that long an amount of time and I would agree; except that not only have I moved back to Canada, a country that generally expresses itself differently than the United States, but I’ve moved back to my home town, where I always felt was a dank dark place filled with limiting mindsets; a place where the word “no” and phrases like, “That’s not how it’s done.” are average; a place where I learned that being called weird was a compliment, not because the people calling me weird were actually giving me a compliment, but rather because if being normal meant being like them then I’d rather be weird. Admittedly, I am biased, I did not have a good experience growing up here. I hated growing up here and couldn’t wait to get the Faack out! I absolutely take that into consideration, as should you. My experience as a child shaped my desire that fueled my ambition.
I moved away from my hometown at 19 and have lived in five different cities since, my favorite two being San Francisco, the first place I ever lived where the actual city made me feel at home and New York, a city where I learned that no matter where I live I am free as long as I believe that I am. I moved to New York thinking, this is it, this is where I am finally going to settle. I know I’m weird in so many ways but weird is accepted there, encouraged even. My “normal” is New York where all the weirdoes go to create and be great. Together we lived and created our own version of normal. I did just tell you that being called “weird” was a compliment but I am human…at least partly…that I know of…and part of the human condition is this incessant desire to fit it. (I was going to write “need to fit in” instead of “desire” but food is a need, sleep is a need, sex is a need, fitting in is very simply a desire. The irony with any desire being that once you choose to let go is most often when you attain it.)
My eccentricities were weighing on me, I already was an artist living an alternative lifestyle, I already had a “weird” persona. No one bat an eye in New York, but whenever I travelled, far and wide, here and there, hometown and elsewhere, the second question on peoples tongues was, “What do you do?”, the third was “Are you married?”, the fourth, “Divorced?”, followed by “Kids?”. A part of me still desired to be accepted by the masses. Growing up in the town that I grew up in, surrounded by individuals who had been brainwashed and conditioned into believing that males and females had to live by a set of rules, met by a specific timeline throughout a lifetime and one of those rules as a woman was to get married and grow babies. The one place I could fit in, easily enough as a heterosexual woman was in settling in marriage. Marrying just about anyone would work, especially after my 35th birthday, because to them I was very quickly getting to that undesirable age and if I didn’t settle soon, God forbid, I would be alone forever and worse yet, childless. Old friends were getting desperate for me and I could feel their desperation. I could feel how uncomfortable my lifestyle made them. Imagine standing on a beach and all of a sudden the tide is sucked away by the horizon and in that split second you realize what is about to happen, a tsunami. That is what I imagine my life made them feel like. Some of them were so uncomfortable with my freedom they made their own excuses and developed their own theories about by singleness. My lack of marriage and children being a more thrilling conversation than my career, my art, my writing, my philosophies, politics of the globe, the environment, spiritual consciousness…you get my drift. I allowed that fear to consume me at times. I allowed projection to dictate some of my choices. I allowed that limitation to phrase my excuses for being husbandless and childless and for that I have regret. I tried, I dated all kinds of men from the men that I had a boiling magnetic super sexual energy with to the stable older gentlemen who could support me and were willing to shoot a baby in me. I mean, what better place to settle than a city filled with people who never settle…in case you can’t imagine my face I’m rolling my eyes right about now. Here’s the thing, I am not designed to settle, that’s why every time I tried to I failed, sometimes miserably. I am also not designed to follow the pack. About two years ago my nomadic soul started to stir, again…my eyes are now rolling ALL THE WAY BACK, because sometimes I wished I were designed to settle, romantic relationships being just one piece of that puzzle.
The truth was that I was becoming disgruntled and unsatisfied. The noise in every day living was becoming overwhelming, literally and metaphorically. I was trying to settle in every aspect, dating boring men who made 6 figures or more because I knew I would be able to paint without concern, trying to convince myself that I really did want children, living in a shit hole apartment because at least I was on Manhattan and Manhattan is where it all happens, right? My creativity being drowned out by air conditioning units, traffic, ambulances, fire trucks, subways and my own earphones but I had to stay. I had to stay. Why? Because of the fear of feeling like a failure, so many people move to New York with big dreams and leave with empty pockets. The fear of other peoples’ perceptions and projections, “She thought she could make it as an artist in New York, huff puff.” The fear of starting all over again, almost forty, a full time artist, no husband, no children, renting, what a stereotype, and worse yet, starting over without a plan. But about two years ago the overwhelm of the city, a sensation I never before felt and never before understood was attacking my cells and making me sick. I tried to fight it because I love New York, I always have from the first time that I ever visited at 16 to this very day, but I had to face it, in all of it’s magnitude and sublimity New York City was sucking me dry. Like LCD said, “New York I love you but you’re bringing me down”. My soul center was crying out, NEVER SETTLE, NOT EVEN HERE! I craved space and the only place I ever felt like I had any was when I went home to visit. I couldn’t afford a proper holiday by then end and often took the bus up North and stayed with my mom fo free yo! She took pity on me and would buy my flight home. What I found in the quiet of my hometown was no longer anger and resentment, but rather stillness and peace. I found happiness being still. I found happiness being with my family. I found happiness in the silence. The only droning in my head was from my own voice and that was spewing out idea after idea after idea, only to return to New York, start on these ideas and burn out three weeks later. I gave in. The Universe, yes I said it, “the Universe” was telling me to get the hell out and start again somewhere else where God can get through without shouting, his voice is getting raspy and he’s tired…or she…or it…or not…covering all of the P.C. labels. It was time to leave the city. The energy was clouding my space and space was at a premium that I couldn’t afford. It took two years to accept this fact, and even at the very end I had a tear drop of desire that something or someone would swoop in and say as my nephew says, “isss jusss a joake” Stay. Nothing and no one did. I left.
I’m here, here I am, back in a place that I vowed never to return. God is a comedian. The punch line is that I’m actually happy about it. Perception is a choice. We wake up every morning and we have the choice on how to think and how to feel and how to see the world around us.
Here I am in a place where I will be judged most. Here I am, I am here, ironically, in the place where I once felt most uncomfortable and now feel perfectly brilliant in my body, mind and soul, because I have learned that I am me no matter where I live and that I am beautiful no matter what anyone else thinks. I have learned that God guides my footsteps and because of that I needn’t be afraid. Fear is what kills, emotionally, psychologically, physically, socially, economically and spiritually. It drives us to do or not do things that we wouldn’t be afraid of if we were walking with God. I have learned that the people who do judge are suffering the most pain and for them I have compassion and understanding because it took me time and effort to find my peace. This mindset has set me up to see this town differently and to experience the people in it in new ways. I am no longer waiting for cruelty, but rather relishing in love and happiness. My family surrounds me and I am enjoying running into old friends and having fun flip conversations with strangers and being me, here and now and always. My dreams and desires and ideas are flooding my consciousness at such high speeds I feel like I’m riding a super sonic highway.
Will I permanently reside in Cornwall? Knowing me…likely not, but I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this happy in a long time. Love is the only answer forever and always, always and forever.