Returning from New York during Covid

I’m home from New York and I don’t think it’s hit me yet.

It’s madness to think that less then a week ago I was flying across the Atlantic from JFK, myself and 40 other masked passengers.

I’m self-isolating in a family holiday home and the days are flying by. Even though I’ve yet to hug my friends and family since coming home, it’s been such a joy to look out the window, see the mountains in the distance and have the reassuring feeling that I’m home.

I wrote the below post last month while reflecting on my nine months living in New York:

Dear past Catherine, hi it’s me. When you look at this it’ll be the second week of June, you’ll be self-isolating for two weeks in a family holiday home and I’m not sure how you’ll be feeling then? Deflated? Demotivated? Kind of how you’re feeling now? Or is the change of scenery giving you a new boost? You’ve returned from New York, something that you weren’t ready to do at the end of March, when everyone was ringing and checking up on you. It felt safer to stay where you were, the panic at home was overwhelming and most importantly you still had a job that you could work from remotely. But by the end of April, when New York had pushed past the worst and the numbers were dropping, did you finally get a feeling you wanted to leave. It was probably the initial stubbornness, the need to prove yourself and not to ‘fail’ that made you plant your feet firmly in the ground. Yet when you really asked yourself where you wanted to be, if you wanted to go through the recovery process and the ‘new normal’ in New York or in Ireland, it was always going to be Ireland.

After the first three weeks of lockdown you could feel the motivation you had for a lot of things start to seep away. The streets started feeling strange, weirdly enough you only started to feel this way after we had gotten past the worst and the graph started dropping, when everyone was ordered to wear masks when out in crowded public spaces. It started to feel like this was permanent, it started to feel scary. It felt easier to stay indoors then try and attempt the shops and avoid people on the streets. After nearly a month of lockdown more people were outside, but there was still fear in everyone’s eyes. But through it all, you and people around you were healthy and the gratefulness you feel for this doesn’t escape you.

You thought the year in New York would be your time to discover what you wanted to do with life, but for nine months living here I don’t think you’re any closer. You talked to someone during the year and seeing her describe her profession, her eyes alive, the passion radiating from her soul, made you crave that feeling. Something that makes you think you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing.

You never fell in love with New York like others around you had. The looming skyscrapers and buzzing atmosphere was fun but you found that the vastness of the city, the ever present hypercommercialism and sensory overload was only enjoyable for so long. Living half an hour by train from midtown Manhattan, you were never constantly in the thick of it, which suited you fine but it was a disappointing not to secure an internship in the city. You had so much you wanted to achieve, travel you wanted to do and things you wanted to see while you were there. But these can all be done later on. In the end they were bucket list items to tick off before you returned to the sea, to the hills and to the small streets that you grew up around. To walk into the local supermarket and see your mom’s face brighten with a smile from behind the counter when she spots you, to see your dog run ahead of you when you’re on a walk. Home is where you’re happiest.



One comment

  1. Hey hey Catherine, it was so interesting to read your letter to yourself 🙂 it’s not easy to be in a city where we don’t feel comfortable, sometimes incidents like this (the pandemic) are the ideal reason to make us think and realize we need to change 🙂 hope you’re now fine, in a place where you feel fine and motivated 🙂 have a great weekend and cheers from Lisbon 🙂 PedroL

    Liked by 1 person

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