Since arriving in Manhattan there is no doubt that I have been 'Miss New York'. [Note: 'Miss' is slightly too flattering, given it is my 11 year wedding anniversary today, but 'Mrs New York' doesn't have the same ring to it]. I have embraced everything this city has had to offer. Arriving with an open heart and an open mind, ready to make the best of what life had thrown up - a new start in this wonderful but complex city. And like any contestant in the real 'Miss New York' there has been lots of gushing, beaming and positively bursting at the seams with enthusiasm.
But like the glassy eyed beauty contestant, the bubbly discourse only tells half the story. Behind the coiffured facade lies something a little deeper. Miss New York has been missing a lot recently. You all know about the garden longings. But as I sit here on our wedding anniversary the other 'missings' can no longer be ignored. Today is also my brother's birthday and it is hard to be so far away. Granted we have both travelled the world and spent many birthdays apart, but this time it feels harder because I was the one who left and what is more he has his first child on the way, soon waiting to meet it's Auntie. I can't help it, I feel guilty.
Guilt is an emotion that mothers feel too much. I know the reasons why I feel it but it still follows me around like a beauty contestant's topless photo on the Internet. Why can't we just can't shake it off? I suppose it is because Mothers love to look out for everybody, be there to physically hold their hand. Throw them a party. Put the candles in the birthday cake. Some how a card and a phone call doesn't seem good enough.
Another example is my best friend. She lives in Barcelona and is expecting her first baby today. Yes, today is going to be a tough day. Since the evening that we were in her parent's house, aged 18, crying and hugging over her packed bags ready to move to university the next day, saying our goodbyes, I have never missed her this much. I just want to be there and hold her child. Have that connection with her or she that was taken for granted.
For people who move abroad, leaving behind parents and grandparents is also very hard. You are that much further away, they get older and the long flight becomes less pleasant. They see their grandchildren less than they used to, though when they do visit, they get to stay for longer. In a way that means that they get to just slot into the kids' daily routine, which is a special insight for Grandparents who live far away. Then there are very elderly grandparents, who just can't travel. When you move abroad, you think about all that precious time you are missing and the responsibility of caring for them that you should be sharing with your family members who stayed behind.
Sometimes calling, emailing or facebooking can get difficult. Maybe some people will resent the fact that you have managed to find happiness in your new life. People live busy lives, and it is not always easy even keeping up with friends who live nearby. The 'Guilt addicts' can use that to beat themselves up - " it's because I left, moved on, left them behind". The movers just have to hang on in there and hope that the good friends will continue to make an effort.
In this global, well-travelled world most people live away from their family and friends for a period of time. The reality is that with such freedom and mobility, no one can be with all the people that they love all of the time. It is just a part of modern life. Personal circumstances have made me very sensitive to missing people, so I understand why this experience resonates. It's why I am more of the 'Miss' than anything else in 'Miss New York 2010'.
yours, working at animal shelters and helping to solve world peace