She leans against the side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Golden hour sunlight reflects off the bronze of her hair, painting her pale pink cheeks with just a little bit more color. She takes a drag of a half gone cigarette, pausing mid-inhale, only to throw it into the ocean below. She’s a struggling artist/interpretive dancer/lost soul with a trust fund.
There are only so many movies about quirky white girls living in Brooklyn that I can handle. They’re fun for a while. You can watch them and laugh. You’ll cry when Brenda finds out that her mom had an affair and gasp when she breaks that antique bowl she got as a move-in gift. You’ll feel your heart ache a little bit when she kisses that guy who is either Adam Driver pre-Star Wars, or someone who looks exactly like him.
My life is not a movie about a quirky white girl living in Brooklyn.
I am sitting alone in a dining hall eating a bowl of oatmeal at nine in the morning. Spoon pushing irish oats back and forth with a squish. Stretch pants pulled on under an oversized t-shirt and no makeup. Ten minutes till Spanish.
Sometimes images flash unexpectedly. Home. Relationships. That one skirt you forgot to bring. They’re hyper realistic, suddenly your toes feel your bedroom carpet and your hands are reaching for your highschool backpack. Just as soon as you see them, they’re gone. It’s like Memento but less death and a little more diversity.
During intense transitional periods there is no point in reaching out for familiarity. Things are different now. This is change. Yet, change feels suspiciously like monotony. Change can only be change for so long, until change turns into adjustment. I eat oatmeal everyday at nine in the morning, I am walking to class by nine-ten, and I am in Spanish conjugating verbs by ten twenty-five. Routines are adjustment. I am acclimating.
Jump to one month into college. Adjustment period is almost up, I am still acclimating, but my routine has been solidified. Monotony has begun clouding adjustment. I’m working hard. I’m going through the motions. I’m meeting people. I’m--
I’m not as happy as I’m supposed to be. Somehow, I’ve gone from craving familiarity to dreading it.
Jump to this past weekend. I’m on the Metro-north, New Haven to Grand Central Terminal, I am with friends. A changing landscape flies past the window, one city morphing into another with each passing hour. This is spontaneity. I glance out the window and in the corner of my eye I think I can see Greta Gerwig winking at me. My friends and I get off the metro-north, we’re in Manhattan, we have an apartment to stay in. It’s free, for family. We take the subway, Nathan knows where he’s going. Nathan is a friend. We get let in by a doorman, I am surrounded by wealth and I’m able to imagine.
Images flashing, not of my life but someone else’s. My reflection hiding beneath the surface of reveries of a life I never had, but really really want. We go out, we have a good time (we have a great time). I meet people. We take pictures. I make sure to post on my instagram story, I rarely do, but I’m trying to embrace something new.
The morning after, I wake up to a view.
No alarm. No class. I take a shower without sandals. I don’t have to rush, the bathroom gets all foggy. I make tea, and I sit by a window. There’s that view. The cityscape of a place familiar to me through other people’s eyes. This feels different.
In this moment I have moved past change, from acclimation to prosperity. I’m sitting by the view of someone else’s city and the sun is reflecting off the side of my face, painting olive orange and heating up my toes. I straddle the line between internalizing without minimizing and externalizing without normalizing. Emotional support isn’t a bad thing. The problem arises when it’s purely instinctual and consequently, a crutch. I romanticize these moments because I am able to avoid the reality of insecurity. I’m suddenly responsible for emotional self sufficiency. I’m not used to that. It’s new. It’s change.
Images of that life again. I am the beginning of acclimation and the end of adjustment. My face is only partially submerged now, I’m able to meld with these familiar faces. I’m in that apartment. It’s the romanticization of the idyllic. I’m playing pretend on the weekend before midterms. I ate eggs instead of oatmeal. I’m not there long enough to adjust. It isn’t mine beyond this moment.