I can't even begin to count the number of times I get asked the "Are you going to live here permanently?" question. It's been happening a lot lately. I was asked constantly by visiting friends in New York during the nearly 12 years that I was living there. To some, the idea of permenently living in New York was inconceivable. My answer was and still remains: "I have no idea." I never actually PLAN how long I will be somewhere. I've lived in seven cities and four countries in my lifetime (if you count my leisurely month long stay in Paris in 2005). My theory is that people don't feel at ease unless you give them an absolute. People can't grasp the idea of impermanence. I even had a recent email conversation with a friend about this very same topic. He sees it as people not being able to accept that your plans (or the absence thereof) are not the same as theirs. Is the idea of not knowing how long I plan to stay in any particular city somehow threatening? People can be very myopic. We are also repelled by and need the idea of permanence at the same time.
I'm a romantic like most people. For women, the idea of "settling down" is pretty much shoved down your throat, expected. Tradition dictates that you're not a 'real' woman until you've found a man. Well, guess what? It's 2011. I'm not prepared to "settle" because I'm expected to. I've never made it my job. I'm too romantic for that. Besides, I just moved away from New York, a city that is all about impermanence – even when it comes to dating/relationships. It's always been about growing careers and being onto 'the next big/hot thing' – same goes for the way people approach dating there. New York dating suffered from attention deficit disorder. Frankly, it was an unbelievably disheartening experience.
Look, I am an idealist. I DO want to fall truly and madly in love. I might even stay put if that were to happen. But I'm also a realist. I know relationships are hard work. I've witnessed enough dysfunctional relationships to avoid getting into one myself. I would never end up with someone who did not have strength, character and dynamism. I want to find someone who will make me actually WANT to stay. So until I find the love of my life, I can live wherever I damn well please and for however long I choose! I might even move away with someone should we choose to – for an indefinite period of time. People can continue to feel uneasy and even threatened by it. They can continue to ask me, my answer will remain the same.
Moving and change, in general, is hard. It always has been. My dad would say to me as a kid, upset that we have to move again: "Nothing is permanent." I would get so incredibly upset when he'd say this to me. I never fully understood it until I got older. It never gets easier to move, but I've done it many times. You inevitably become "the new kid" whenever you move – which can be painful and scary. You don't always have kind, compassionate people around you to give you space and time to readjust. But there are always important discoveries to make when a major life shift happens. I realize now that my dad was only trying to teach me to not become too attached to anything in life. And to accept that change is what's permanent.
My recent move from New York to Toronto has changed many things. I will probably always miss it there for countless reasons. I've had to let go of important people, attachments and ideas. Full disclosure, I would not write off the idea of moving back. But ever since I've moved, I've noticed an incredible shift in my creativity (for the better). It's an exhilarating time for me both creatively and professionally – in ways I had no way of foreseeing. As much as I loved living there, I realize now just how much I stagnated during my last couple of years in New York – personally, professionally and creatively. It was begging for a shake-up. Despite it still being a struggle, my recent move is starting to feel like a great beginning to my next chapter in life. I look forward to seeing what's next.