The onset of the winter blahs has Rachael Shearer thinking about her choice to remain in New York, and how this will affect her relationships with those still in Ireland.
Comparing the weather to one's mood/life can often be incredibly cringe-worthy, so brace yourselves. Leaves falling, pools of snowy mush and biting bitter winds – autumn may be beautiful but the transition to polar vortex number two is proving ugly.
Too many mornings are kicking off with groans, moans and occasional fits of tears as yet another umbrella breaks or there's a pesky hole in my shoe that I'm too broke to replace. I believe they call these "first world problems" and no one is actually allowed to complain about them. My lips are semi-sealed.
It's overcast; it's muggy; it's cold, and I can't afford an enormous North Face jacket – we shall call this "The Grey Area.”
This cheerful title not only applies to the weather, but it applies to all aspects of our little lives. Any prolonged period of uncertainty, or a pivotal decision being put on hold can leave you in some strange state of limbo where if feels like your life is being dictated by a third party, and your fate somehow lies in someone else's hands. Am I being vague enough?
For example, most of the friends that I moved to New York with last year are beginning to go home, and only a handful of us have decided to stay. Are those of us sticking it out making the right decision? Will everything even work out?
Is it crazy to stay in a city that is slowly but surely driving me mad? Grey Area.
Further example – there are close friends and family and an especially significant other human back in Ireland whose absence in my life is persistently difficult and sad.
How will staying a billion miles away affect those relationships? Will we all fall out? Will I ever see any of them ever again? Grey Area.
And finally, the reverse hypothetical where you try and imagine your life if you make the opposite decision, like "Sliding Doors" but with better haircuts and less dying.
If I went back to Ireland, where would I live? Where would I work? And worst of all, would I finally have to learn how to drive? Grey Area.
Deciding to come here for a year was easy, because what's in a year? Ireland is still only a six hour flight away, and it's not like New York is as far from home as Australia which, let's face it, is essentially like going to space.
There are tons of Irish people here and the Irish American community could not have been more hospitable, culturally vibrant and consistently welcoming and supportive. It has never felt like being entirely detached from Ireland.
However, deciding to stay and to build a life here is a slightly more petrifying move. And the reason that all these Grey Areas keep sneaking up is because so much lies in the balance.
I don't think I've ever wanted something so much, and if for some reason things don't work out and I have to leave it all behind, all the hard work that I've put in over the last year will feel like it was boxed up and hidden in a dark, inaccessible vault like Gringott's or that well from "The Ring."
So why question it? My theory goes a little something like this. Doing something for yourself is fine for a while. In fact, it's great. People are supportive and excited for you, and everyone agrees that this is the adventure or the cruise or the face-lift that you've always deserved.
However, what if you stay under the knife and keep doing things for yourself? No one is really going to care if you come back looking like Cher, but will people stop caring if you just never come back?
Moving here was about me, and staying here is still very much about me. I think I have struggled a lot with admitting that, and put blame in the wrong places to distract from the fact that I'm just prioritizing myself. Especially when it comes to a relationship.
The deal was that I would come to New York for a year and then we'd both be back in Ireland and everything would be fine. I don't think either of us expected me to change my mind – or to be so stubborn about it.
The truth is, sometimes you do have to look out for yourself more than anything else. Recognizing what you need and want when you're single can be a lot easier, because it really is just you that is being taken into consideration.
Traveling the world for a decade or two? Send us a postcard! Moving to a cabin in the woods to write the Great American Novel so you really won't have WiFi for 15 years? Can I have a signed copy!?
Realistically, your family and friends will always love you unconditionally, and be there for you whenever you decide to come home – within reason.
But what about a relationship? Not that I'm planning on going off the grid completely and, as we all know, New York really isn't all that far from Dublin in the grand scheme of things.
But how long can you expect someone to stand by while you do your own thing, and how long can long-distance really last? Grey Area.