I recently read somewhere that we should all move at least five times throughout our lives. That to remain in the same place for too long inevitably breeds complacency and boredom. To an extent, I agree, as evidenced by my moving to France directly after college, and to New York City right after that. While some long for stability, I seem to have developed a deep fear of it. People change cities for a variety of reasons – in search of blank slates, to experience something new, to chase lovers or jobs. For me, there were plenty of factors, but the chief reason for my wanting to move to New York was an unexplainable desire to be invisible.
I made my decision about New York when I was still abroad, so I did what any sensible adult would do and trolled Craigslist until I found an apartment. I even prematurely wrote a $2,500 check to a complete stranger to reserve my spot. Making rational decisions has never been my forte. Once my contract in France wrapped up, I did it. I successfully moved to one of the most expensive cities in the world with no source of stable income in sight. Nice.
After just a few weeks in the concrete jungle where dreams go to die (Alicia Keys had it wrong), it became painfully clear to me that a bachelor’s degree in journalism and French was not as marketable as I had thought. Who knew? As a result, my official job title is currently “writer-masquerading-as-waitress”. Or maybe it’s the other way around, I’m honestly not sure anymore. In any case, I don’t really mind, because this city is still giving me what I wanted from it most: the precious cloak of invisibility. At least that’s what I had thought.
See, my latest source of entertainment comes in the form of long, uninterrupted walks in the middle of the night, enjoying fall’s last few breaths while inhaling the impending winter’s crisp air. There’s something so beautiful to me about moving without having a destination in mind. Ordinarily, I cross the city’s streets with the kind of cozy comfort that can come only from being a nameless face, but last night, that changed.
A cab driver honked as I passed by. “Hey, Molly! I’ll give you a lift – no charge.” He was one of the people who waited outside the bar where I worked, tirelessly asking each patron if they needed a ride home. “No, I’m okay,” I told him. Little did he know I wasn’t actually going anywhere.
This man had inadvertently ruined my walk, and in doing so, he forced me to notice that I was no longer wandering unfamiliar streets or exploring uncharted territory. Instead, I was simply going for a walk in the weird, comfortable, quirky neighborhood that had somehow turned into my home. I guess I wasn’t really a stranger anymore. And I certainly was no longer invisible.
For some reason, though, I didn’t care.