Archive for August, 2010

Life in a new city

I’m finally in New York. I’m finally here. I already feel so used to living on my own, being in a new place. I already feel accustomed to a lot of things here, things that when I first arrived made me feel a little out of place. I have to remind myself that 2 weeks ago I was still working–my last week before flying out and moving out, and I was still up to my neck with things to do. Just over 1 week ago, I pulled an all-nighter the night before my flight packing and padding and taping and roping, frantically trying to finish it all as the sun started rising, and then it was time to go the airport. I didn’t even have a chance to sit down and reflect on how it would be the last time being at home for a while.

It is too easy as I’m here alone to be zombie, to go about my day, go exploring, people watching, sightseeing, and at the end of the day zone out on my computer following all the hyperlinks and opening all those tabs to interesting things I want to read and learn about, especially about this new city I’m now a resident of. This I would not have had time to do just 2 weeks ago. That last week of July I was sleep deprived and my mind was running off deadlines and details. How many boxes do I need? How much stuff do I have, and what can I take with me and what should I just buy over there? What stores do they have over there and how do I get there? Do I need two taxis or just one from the airport for all my stuff? Is it better to spend a little more to sleep in Manhattan the night we land and not have to deal with a crazy taxi commute into the city in the morning or better to save money by sleeping near the airport? Better to take the bus (cheaper) or a taxi (faster)? Should I buy 7-day unlimited MetroCards for my whole family while they’re there for the week or just pay as we go? How much cash should I take with me and how much should I leave in my bank account? Which books should I take, which should I leave at home, and which should I just sell to make space? (This one was hard)

Despite all the planning, when the time came to go the airport, everything seemed to go wrong. Miscommunication and missed commitments made for a frantic dawn, and we weren’t sure exactly how to get around our mess. But somehow, everything worked out. We were there early for our gate, even with the hold-up at security. Once we were on the plane, I just slept, with nothing on my mind. Just slept. I don’t even remember taking off from LA.

New York was New York when we got there. The worker who acted disappointed even though I gave him $7 for barely doing anything to help us get our stuff to the curb. Hearing the chirp-chirp of the Chinese dispatcher’s walkie-talkie over the phone, trying to tell the driver where we were, with cars double-parking everywhere. The mass of foreign students near our hotel just hanging out, half-blocking the entrance. The taxi driver who cursed under his breath when we brought out all our luggage from the hotel, even though I reassured him that we had fit everything in the exact same car twice already. I tipped him 50% for eventually agreeing to take us and seemed nice about it in the end. The New York-ness of the day-to-day people: my superintendent, the contractors doing maintenance work in the building. This is hard to describe, but things like different ethnic first and last names (different from ethnic names in LA), the different accents and tones definitely made it seem like a new city. Hispanic in LA is different from Hispanic in NYC. And a lot more European diversity. Things like how as soon as you ask a local–like a porter or deli counter worker–to repeat something or if you don’t order the way they like, they seem so pissed but then when you understand them and go with their flow they seem fine again. More so to people they perceive as foreign, like my dad. It was eye-opening to see how people treated him versus me. It is humbling to consider how easy I have it because of his sacrifice.

And now I’m here, enjoying an apartment to myself before my roommates get here later this week. It is so nice to be able to finally relax, do whatever I want, not have any commitments. I don’t take this for granted at all, given what life was like not that long ago, talking to accounts payables and scheduling dispatch and counting payroll hours and tutoring kids and preparing for church. When people asked me if I was excited for NY, I would always say, yes but I have too much going on until I’m actually there. When I get there, then I’ll be excited. And now I’m actually here. And now I really am excited for all that’s up ahead. But I should always remind myself of all that it took to get to this point. Only by God’s grace. Take care lest I forget.

The last weekend before I left, we had a retreat with another church. I had to put moving prep on hold from Thursday night until Sunday evening basically (and I was leaving Monday morning!), but once we were there, it was such an encouraging time. Andrew and I think the kids began to see our heart as we enjoyed fellowship and good, deep conversation with people from the other church. Now that I’m gone, it seems that maybe they are changing. I really hope they continue to grow. My last sermon started with 2 Corinthians 5:9: “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” As I read through 2 Corinthians before Sunday service, I began to see how deeply emotional the entire letter was. I began to feel those same emotions as I thought about the legacy I would leave. Would they continue to grow and mature without me? The entire day I felt my heart swell–as I played my last praise set, as I delivered my final instructions and encouragements, as I sang “I Offer My Life” for offering, as I stood before the KM and received recognition for my two years of service, as they sang and prayed for me, as I ate lunch. And I was done. I had passed the baton at work, and now I was released from my responsibilities from church.

There are many things here that stir my heart and make me pray. But there are also many things that make my heart comfortable. I hope that God will continue to keep me humble and mindful of deeper things rather than worthless things. Writing this has been good for my soul. Going back to all that has happened and all that I’ve learned has been refreshing. To all that God will do in and through me here in New York City…