My friend Lisa wrote a post recently about moving from the city she’s lived in for over 20 years and recalling how she felt that first night she moved there. Euphoric was the word she used. It totally brought me back because I know that feeling. It’s exactly how I felt when I moved out of my parent’s house and into Manhattan when I was 18. I’ve written about those years before, but have I written about that specific night? (am I starting to repeat myself now?) The night when I stayed up till dawn philosophizing about art and life with some junior-year art students from my school at someone’s apartment, which was really a painting studio with a mattress. There are memories in your life that are vivid, not just because you can remember the details of what the floor looked like (paint splatters and cigarette ashes), but because you can conjure up exactly what you were feeling. Euphoric is a great word to describe that memory, but I don’t think I had ever thought to associate it with that morning, walking home from my night with friends. I just remember the sun beaming down Lafayette Street as it rose from that horizon at the end of the street early that morning. It was a Saturday or Sunday morning, I can’t remember which, but the streets were empty as the city hadn’t woken up yet. And I remember feeling euphoric as I walked home into those blinding sun rays, thinking of how my life was just beginning and how I was free, finally, after a tumultuous summer after high school.
I experienced this same feeling a second time the day I left NY to move to Washington the day after New Year’s in 1992. As some of you know, it was both an escape from my old life and an adventure, landing in a place where I had never been before and where I knew no one. Life was starting over, once again.
I’m not sure I have experienced that exact feeling since. There have been other life changing events of course, like moving back to New York, the birth of the kids, the start of the business, but nothing that felt so big and free like those two very specific days. It’s hard to describe, but maybe you know the feeling too? I’m thinking about all of this now because I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever feel this way again and I wonder if it’s something that’s specifically associated with youth. I know that we can experience these emotions at any age – that mixture of excitement, anticipation and fear (the giddy kind of fear), but I think the difference now is that we don’t have the naivete of youth. Back then, we moved through things unjaded. When we looked into the future, we didn’t really see anything yet and that’s what made it exciting. That’s the feeling. I know we can’t predict our future, but as adults we spend a portion of our lives trying to guide and secure it so that we can visualize a future. At some point as we get older, do we fear the unknown rather than have our minds get blown by embracing it?
Maybe some people do get this feeling later in life, perhaps through a career change, retirement, or a new relationship. Maybe some people feel it again vicariously through their kids who do get to open their eyes to new things in the truest sense. Maybe some people never experience it at all. I’m glad to have experienced it twice. I just wonder if it can ever happen again…and what would make it happen?
ps. I’ve been in a contemplative mood lately and might dump some of it here. You can just call it old lady ramble.