This year, I found myself on the brink of change. It’s always exciting to travel, to meet new people, and explore unfamiliar territory. I think some of the best things I’ve done have come from taking chances, and deciding to move to a different continent at eighteen was one of them.
People confess their love for cities all the time. In posters, on t-shirts, in maps pinned up on walls, and souvenirs on display. I look at the postcards from the island I grew up on. At the keychains, and pictures, and drawings, from my favourite places in the world and all the places I’ve lived in. It’s euphoric to be in new places you love – I think that’s what makes people take chances on cities.
I took a chance on Newcastle, hoping for it to feel like home but not knowing what to expect at all. Out of all the times I’ve chased the thrill of the unknown I think this was the scariest to walk into, but I love how much it has helped me grow. I think everyone should have experiences they’d put in a memoir a few decades down the line, stories to tell the friends they meet every six months, and I hope I collect many more. In Toni Morrison’s words, “When they fall in love with a city it is forever”, and after finding people I now see every day, staying in for movie nights or staying out much later than we should, turning nineteen with friends and making facetime calls instead of a family dinner, knowing the storefronts, beaches, baristas at the best hot chocolate spots, the best times to meet dogs on walks, the turns we always miss, running into the ocean for one last sunset swim, and waiting for ice cream runs on long summer days, I’m starting to think the warmth in the little details is here to stay.
Some of my favourite pieces of art talk about life in the most conflicting ways. Sometimes, you call places home but claim none of them, and other times you take the risk. I’ve had days that convince me I’m working to make life nothing less than everything I want it to be, and others that have made me question the euphoria, but these are the times we spend finding our stronger, riskier selves. In When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi writes about his life, its contradictions, and the risks he has taken. He talks about the people he has loved and how everything succumbs to finitude. Like him, I’d like to be a neurosurgeon. I love the way he talks about medicine, saying it trespasses into sacred spheres, because doctors see humans at their most vulnerable, build connections with them, and try their best. I think that’s what I want to do. To hold the responsibility of making a tangible impact on someone’s life and explore one of the most complex fields we know that, surprisingly, is also a form of art.
That, in itself, is a big chance to take, and like the one I’ve taken on this city that I cherish, I hope it’s worth it.
Until I find out, with a heart full of memories, memoir-esque stories, smooth jazz on shuffle, and letting the good feelings endure, like most poets, we’ll never get tired of loving, you know?