A year or two after I graduated, I returned to my college town for a visit. I was in a downtown cafe having brunch and reminiscing about our college days with my then-boyfriend. “You know what I miss about Bellingham?” I asked. “Wherever I went, I was always running into people I knew.”
As if on cue, our friend Chad walked through the door. Now, Chad is a friend we met in Bremerton. He really had no reason (that we knew of) to be in Bellingham. Let alone to walk into that cafe at that time on that day.
(At my going-to-New York party, Chad gave me a mixed CD featuring Seattle artists. It has this song on it. “My family lives in a different state.”)
Since that moment, I decided my test for knowing I’ve established myself somewhere is to run into people I know.
Does that happen randomly in New York? No. Well, that’s not entirely true. I ran into Navani on a Midtown street once. I saw my apartment broker coming out of the subway in my neighborhood. But neither of those were Chad-level flukes. Navani and I worked in Midtown, and Robert shows apartments in my neighborhood.
New York is a city of 8 million people where loneliness reigns – especially if you have shallow roots here. It’s really hard to make a connection with any of those 8 million. A new friend asked me the other day if I have many friends in the city. I told him no. I have a few. He’s been here five years and said he doesn’t have many friends either. It just seems to be the way. It’s an uncomfortable place for me in that regard. I have tons of friends. They just live in other states.
I’m gaining a cat-mate next weekend. My sister’s cat Carlos is coming to live with me. One concern I have is who is going to check on Carlos when I go out of town. Quyn hates cats, so she’s out. Navani lives too far away. Barbara has more than enough on her plate. So … I hire a cat sitter, I guess.
I’m not writing this post to make you feel sorry for me or tell you I’m miserable. I’m not. It’s just something I’ve been noticing and thinking about lately. Maybe because I live on my own now. Maybe because I recently had a breakup. Maybe because I visited my old roommates this week and missed those living room conversations with them.
Luckily living without roommates has other redeeming qualities.