Writing about my first week in New York City has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I was torn between giving an account of how each day of the week unfolded, and giving a general description of the entire week. I wrote the first piece on Friday but words felt inadequate to describe what I went through.
Each day was eventful in its own way; some had dramatic and frustrating happenings. And I faced most of these moments in a helpless state of loneliness and uncertainty that I can’t believe I’ve persevered, triumphed, and now feel stronger. During my struggle to put this piece together, I kept wondering;
Should I begin with the stressful, confusing and emotionally draining ordeal that led to the loss of one of my luggage bags in Washington DC in an attempt to get to the right bus station on time (I first went to the wrong station and later missed my bus) or the loneliness I wallowed in on Sunday after discovering that the Atlas Corps orientation honeymoon was over and real service was beginning the next Monday? I will skip the Sunday story of trying to meet a friend’s friend in vain because I couldn’t interpret google map!
My first day at work with Women Deliver is a story in itself. I mean, meeting the first group of warm people in New York was a big deal to me. Since I hadn’t figured out housing, my colleagues decided to give me some time off to look at apartment rooms I had found on craig’s list. Not only did I get lost on train tracks four consecutive times (By the way, this is the most dramatic tale of all), I was late to my appointments for that afternoon and evening.
That night wasn’t any better. I alighted at the right train station but failed to figure out the street to my hostel. Forgive me for giving too many accounts of me losing my way. In this particular incident, my cell phone battery had blacked out. I didn’t have any other form of help apart from guidance from people, many of whom didn’t even know Varet Street. (I guess this is an unpopular street). There is this particular lady who even guided me but we ended up in the wrong direction. NYPD rescued me and dropped me at my hostel but I realized later that I had spent 20minutes in the cold, trying to figure out “my hostel” when it was just four blocks away. The distress, frustration and fatigue I felt this night is unforgettable. I went to bed past midnight.
The next day, Tuesday was better because I finally found a place to stay, but I will skip the tales of trying to get to the place I now call home. However, writing about the way my body was reacting to all these events can make a great story. I remember the look on Ochuko’s face when she met me on Wednesday for the Atlas Corps Happy Hour. Machien said I had changed, looked pale and the smile was gone, and Ochuko agreed that I had even lost weight! The Atlas Corps Happy Hour was a great event; it signified the start of a life I was meant to live in this city.
But that’s too much to write about in a week, right?
I will choose to focus on the lessons I continue to learn about each of these experiences. One of them is that New York is a person in itself…such a difficult lover. This lesson applies to living in the United States in general, I guess. I am choosing to take in one day at a time, thanks to Prof Gary Weaver’s session on American culture. So many things make sense now.
I feel stronger because never in my mind did I think of quitting during all these challenges. What kept me going through the week was the hope that better days lay ahead, and that I still had a chance to enjoy this great city! I feel lucky and blessed to work and live in New York.
As we all begin this journey, I pray that God guides us through all our days of service, let Him enable us deliver beyond our expectations and initiate in us a heart of steel through all the trials that may come our way.
Happy service to all Class 14 Atlas Corps Fellows!