Living in a new city is always a bit of a humbling experience.
You never think of it that way, of course, when you are leaving. That is the time where every spare moment is crammed full of the people you are expecting to miss. When you're leaving, it suddenly seems rational to invite people to assist in wrapping plates in newspaper while you are wearing sweatpants, when in any other month, the same request would be a little tactless. And people, because they expect to miss you, volunteer for such ridiculous tasks as fishing cardboard boxes out of the recycling bins behind a Pottery Barn. They pepper you with hugs and goodbye gifts. You leave the city with your head foggy from a dizzying mixture of gratitude, excitement and wistfulness.
The first few days in your new home are dizzying yet again, but this time from the sheer number of baking dishes and pyjamas you own, and how boxes seem to be exponentially multiplying every time you turn around. Finally, you pause.
And realize how you know absolutely no one.*
When you were leaving, you knew this fact. But you tell yourself things like "Yeah, it'll be kind of weird, but I'm independent, so I'll manage."
And you do manage.
And you go to parties and say hi to your neighbours.
But you still have those humbling nights, the ones where you convinced yourself that you really did want a Friday night alone because when was the last time you baked muffins.
And you aren't sure who to call when things feel a just little empty.
You also wonder when making friends got so systematic. In high school, you just somehow had friends. Suddenly, you're questioning yourself.
"Is it too soon for me to call them? Should I add them on Facebook? What does 'we should hang out sometime' mean?"**
But you expected this, in a way. What you didn't expect is how lonely you are by virtue of lack of contact from home. When you were leaving, everyone was waxing on about keeping in touch.
But for them, you are just one person, while for you, they are everyone. So it's easy for them to not respond to emails right away. Yet its easy for you to count the people who haven't responded to your emails, and feel that number weighing on you. As though you expected your absence would change everything for them, when really, it's only changing everything for you.***
*Okay, that line was a little over dramatic. To be fair, I do casually know a couple people here- oh, and that handsome dude I moved here with.
** I actually discussed this experience with a handful of people who were also new in town. We all laughed about being 'friend desperate'.
*** I feel as though this is all coming off a little more pessimistic than is genuine. This city has actually been remarkably friendly, and relationships are developing at about the speed one could really expect. However, I think what really stands out is the act of 'getting to know' a lot of people, but not really knowing anyone just yet, if that makes sense.