Some mornings, riding the bus over the bridge, I want to close my eyes and drift, but even on the tiredest mornings I force myself to open my eyes as we go over the bridge, because I want to enjoy every moment I have back here in Gone West.
It's different this time.
Last time I moved to Gone West, I was just back from South Sudan. I think I was stunned for at least the first year. I'd been going back and forth between Africa and North America for five years, and I didn't know who I was without that.
I felt stuck when I lived here before. I loved the city, but I was working a temporary job. I hadn't made a good group of friends. I lived alone.
Now I feel free. I have a job that I love and I do well and I could do for the rest of my life if I wanted. I have yet to have a Saturday without plans. Or a Sunday, for that matter. I live with other people, so even when I stay home, I am not alone.
All of that, yes, but also the part of me that never quite felt like it fit in here in the States has faded. I grew up a third culture kid, and that will never go away, but the brilliance of one's 30s, if lived deliberately, is that you learn to like yourself. I think I would be happier now in New York, or in South Sudan, or anywhere, than I was five years ago.
But I'm here, and I'm so happy to be here.