I only woke up once on the long flight to San Fran, that then connected to Newark Liberty International. We hit turbulence somewhere over the Pasific Ocean and I saw a bolt of lightning illuminate the dark cloud we were flying through. Maybe the silver lining in every cloud is actually deadly voltages of electricity.
In my groggy haze, I thought I heard the captain saying over the intercom ‘don’t panic’, which instantly made me question what I should not be panicking about. Fear was crawling around my ribcage and strangling my lungs.
That’s the first time of many to come, that I practiced visually removing fear from my chest cavity and politely evicting it to my shoulder. I survive on dramatic metaphors and needed the visual aid.
It’s almost childish in its simplicity, but I was by myself, nobody was going to play parent to me anymore, so I needed to play parent to myself. Fear was allowed to inhabit my body and mind, I wasn’t going to ask such a valuable component to my survival to leave completely, but the deal was that fear let me get on things.
Fear was allowed input, but fear wasn’t allowed to decide if I was able to breath.
Upon exiting the airport after safely touching down in the USA, I was hit by a wave of smoggy heat and noise, falling instantly in love. The lightning from the storm must have followed me to Manhattan because the city felt electric. There was an untameable and unnameable energy coursing through the streets. The years of history enveloped you. Everything felt vivid technicolor.
I took a Yellow Cab just like in the movies and just like in the movies the cabbie talked hard and fast. I struggled to understand his blunt and fast paced narration of the trip as he casually raced two giant Fed Ex trucks, coming within what felt like inches of being crushed between their game of chicken.
Paying for the ride with my one-hundred american dollar bill I had been tipped by a very kind New Yorker I found my hostel room. The New Yorker had been doubtful that a little girl from Taupo, living in a practically unknown island in the middle of the Pasfic Ocean, was going to survive his city. Within minutes I was unpacked, showered and ready to explore. I managed all of an entire block before I came to an intersection and started to fade.
A wall of noise surrounded me, every car seemed to be trying to hit you and I was desperately hungry. A concrete jungle caged me in on every side and the worst part was that you can’t see the stars from NYC. I made it all the way back into my little hostel room before sitting down on the floor and bursting into tears. I fell asleep a few minutes later, utterly exhausted.