Back on campus now, I'm in what I consider a very safe environment; I'm able to take on my everyday roles and feel bonds of community without really having to seek it out. Most people speak English, so I don't need to learn to communicate. We go to our favorite restaurants and know how to work the subway system. Vulnerability isn't forced upon me, as it was in Bangladesh, where everything - right down to the beds we slept on - required adjusting to. But that threshold of vulnerability, I realized, is what keeps me growing. Which means I seek it out here.
In this context, I realize I am "too comfortable," and that makes me antsy. Perhaps it's a character flaw, but I crave stressful situations. Positive ones, of course, like taking on all my theses in one semester while also running between six meetings, working, and making art. New experience, challenges, and the like. Things that make my list-brain fall into a swoon while my creative brain chafes and squeezes itself into the moments between lunch and the next class.
That's what I worry about at the start of every year, whether I'll be able to give adequate time for my creative work to be at its best. The summer of infinite days sitting under a fan and fasting, typing out works to be looked at/used in weeks and months from now, is now over. New York with its coffee dates and its fifteen minute dinners is back in full swing. It makes me want to reply to all my email and stack my works into folders and lists. But how can you get in touch with feeling and vulnerability if you're worried about just making it to the next class? These are the questions I think about at 2am when I can't fall asleep just yet.
This year is going to bring on a lot of promise, but just as many challenges as the last. I'll be hovering over the edge of a cliff for most of it, using up all the precious energy reserves I was supposed to cultivate while overseas. Now how to incorporate that in a changing NYC life...