Fact: I wrote a long post during my layover at Changi Airport last April 14 (I’m currently in Cape Town, South Africa as I type this out on a Saturday night), but my dumb self accidentally deleted it from my Notes app so yes, it is gone, and I have no way to recover it.
So instead of listing down how my last two weeks went, maybe keeping it short should do the trick (I mean, the longform one was deleted, anyway—might as well).
I’m going to be honest. I did a self-evaluation of sorts when I got back from NY—that short week I spent in Manila before heading to Russia—and overall this 4-month adventure was a 2/10. That’s so low, I know. But there were just several factors that I needed to put into consideration.
I went to New York with one goal: to study. My other goals were to get in ADC Young Guns (ha, I *wish*), attend a CreativeMornings event, or meet some of the artists I look up to (which I managed to—I met Adam and Fran!), oooor maybe get some work opportunities.
Obviously, nothing went as planned. The classes I took weren’t really at par with my expectations. I took 2 classes that were really just a waste of time and money (and ultimately a lesson in realizing my self-worth as an artist). I didn’t get in ADC Young Guns. I didn’t get jobs. I didn’t “live my dream” in New York City.
Then I realized that there were other dreams—that I really didn’t need to list down, because they were just there, and I just needed to take a closer look.
In my four months of living in New York I have experienced my lowest of lows. I have become vulnerable, and learned to accept it. But in the midst of my breakdowns, I found myself—in small doses. And learned to piece everything together as time passed. If anything, that in itself is the biggest takeaway I have from my 100 days in a new city.
I had spaced out the last two weeks to be mainly for friends and family—and mostly for myself. I went to places that made me happy: I got myself a Milk Bar soft serve (but of course), I had tea at my favorite, Argo, I walked around downtown Manhattan in the cold, braved a 3 degree Friday in East Village, went thrift shopping and graffiti hunting in Brooklyn, and cut class on a Monday to spend a whole day alone exploring Chelsea and West Village.
There were also peak touristy things I didn’t mind doing with friends, of course: from seeing Hokusai’s work at the MET, to watching Kodaline LIVE (I was alone but I met some friends! I also cried as if I really needed to type that, but yes I did cry my heart out while singing to “Brand New Day”), shopping at Strand, Madewell, and Uniqlo (the ush), partied like a true millennial for a friend’s birthday (we went home at 4AM, a first for me) and having one last round of visiting my all-time favorite museum, the MoMA (photo above by Steph!).
And of course, spent a whole afternoon working at the New York Public Library for the last time.
Every time I think about New York, I cringe a little. Has my mindset of a city I used to love so much changed me? I can’t say I love it *that* much anymore. My perception of the city has drastically transformed.
But I will say that if I were to go back in a few years, it’d be to see some of the lovely people I met along the way.
Spent my last two weeks with Angel, Amber, Pauline, Anne, Steph, Danica, and my cousins Maco and achi Michelle. People who remind me of home 🙂
By the second week of December, I was looking forward to go home and retreat to my bed in Manila. My last episode of anxiety came in while I was packing—I repacked five times. Five! I realized I had brought so much (and bought, no less) things that I needed to leave behind more than expected. It was devastating. I’ve learned my lesson.
This whole thing about ~anxiety~ only came into the picture while I was in New York. So I started going to therapy this 2019 sorting it out. It’s been hard, really. I never expected that my worry for things escalated so much, nor did I see this coming at all. It’s really been a hard process to work through my daily life with crippling fear and anxiety (it’s made my worry for the future 10000x worse). But I’m getting by. I hope I am.
I owe a lot of thanks to my NYC “parents” who “adopted” me for 100 days—uncle W and auntie A. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if it weren’t for auntie A’s persuasion (“sayang talent mo!” she told me). In fact, how this idea came to me is still really a blur. What was I thinking? Did I really wanted to leave home so bad? Turns out I did. But I guess it wasn’t time to leave, for good—not just yet. New York was definitely not the place.
I really thought I would cry at JFK. But I didn’t. I had no feelings. I was apathetic AF by all means and didn’t even bother sharing about it to anyone. What was the point, really? I just knew it was time to go.
But I did manage to have some tiny tears roll down my cheek as I opened the window to see the sun come through, as I landed in Manila at seven in the morning on a hot December day. I even watched two Filipino films on the way back, lol (proud Pinoy film fan here!).
There really is no place like home. Well, that’s what I’m saying now. Who knows where home will be in the next couple of years?
Thanks New York. Time to close this chapter and move on.
You can watch more NYC videos here, and I’ll be updating that in a few months (obviously I still have a library of footage to edit).