I live in a state of restlessness, always looking ahead, always craving the next adventure. It's hard for me to settle down, because I exist in a state of perennial anxiety as I wait for the next big move.
Before my four years in college, I hadn't spent more than three years in one place since I was four years old. By the time senior year rolled around and I was about to break my record, as fractured as my time had been between summers and Christmas breaks away, I was beginning to feel the telltale signs of restlessness.
When I moved to New York City as a fresh-faced college grad in 2015, I thought the Queens house I moved into would be...well, if not my forever home, then at least my for-a-long-time home.
Six months later when I moved out, I thought the Brooklyn apartment I was heading to would be forever. And five months after that, I thought the same.
That third apartment, which I moved into less than a year after trekking into the city for the first time, lasted 11 months.
To this day, that's my record. Eleven months, unbroken, at one address in the city. I came very close at my latest apartment: I reached 10. Ten!
And then I moved. I'm really hoping this current home is a little more permanent, because really, moving is expensive and now I have a bed (that took time and also, somehow, money! To put together), and I have an AC unit and I'm buying wall decor specifically for this room and — I just can't do it again, really.
The point isn't that I move a lot. The point is that I think growing up as a TCK bred a restlessness into my soul. And the other point is that this city I call home is tailor-made and perfect for TCKs.
In New York, I’ve had seven different homes where I resided for two or more months; I've lived here less than three years. If you add up the sublets and places I stayed for 3-4 weeks as well, the number reaches 10. Ten homes, in three boroughs, in 10 entirely, completely different neighborhoods. And don’t forget those two separate occasions I spent a few nights in New Jersey...
I lived in Jamaica, Queens, where the train rattled above ground a block away and I could hear it from my kitchen. I lived in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where the apartments were ugly but newly remodeled and the main attraction is a combination of its proximity to Park Slope as well as Sunset Park itself, with its stunning views of Manhattan. I've rested my head briefly on the Upper East Side, across from elegant brownstones, or in the Financial District, brushing shoulders daily with men in suits acting harried.
Every time I step out of my new apartment in Elmhurst, which is across from a mall that reminds me of suburbia and next to an extremely classic New York City-style park and playground, it hits me anew that this home is not so much a city but an amalgam of a thousand neighborhoods, each of them touched by the ethnic, cultural, and class influences of those who live there.
And it struck me that maybe there's a reason I feel so at home in New York. Maybe there's a reason I, who as a 10-year-old grew bouncing-on-my-toes restless and ready to move because we'd been in the same city for two straight years, have no desire yet (and never really did) to leave New York.
The diversity that ripples through its literal streets is like catnip to my easily-bored heart and mind. Obviously, I need to get better about the whole "move every few months" thing because that is wildly unsustainable (and I love my new apartment, and it's the kind of place where I can stay for a long, long time), and what have I found to be a good fix? Exploration.
Whenever I start to feel like I’m getting bored and might want to shake things up, a quick trip to one of the neighborhoods I don’t frequent as often (aka not where I live nor where I work) does the trick. Whether that means a Memorial Day beach trip with my friend or an evening at a coffee shop in the Meatpacking District, I find ways to see the beauty and diversity again.
The thing is, I don’t think this desire for newness is something that would’ve come organically to me. As a kid, I was such a homebody. In fact, my parents decided against letting me do online school in eighth grade, something I had begged for, because they were afraid if I didn’t have to leave the house for school I would just...have no friends. Never see the sun. Wither away.
After middle school things started to change even more and even more quickly. I went to boarding school in Germany (a whole new country to live in); I went on several international trips, including a 12th-grade visit to Guangzhou, China, where for the first time I really experienced metropolis. I remember walking through the city with my classmates, staring up in awe at the buildings, my head swiveling from left to right and back again, taking in the sheer magnitude of it all.
That’s when it clicked.
I wasn’t going to be content, after all, with the suburban life in South Carolina I’d always dreamed of until then. Something in me changed — maybe it was me who had changed, actually — and restlessness grew in my spirit.
The kind of restlessness that somehow New York sates. The kind that is comforted and soothed by the big, diverse, multi-cultural and multi-colored and multi-faceted city I live in and love now.
Maybe I needed to be a TCK to love New York; maybe I needed New York to salve my wandering spirit; I don’t really know which part came first, I only really know that the two go hand-in-hand together and make up two halves of my whole.