Side Effects

This is the thing about arriving in New York; nobody tells you about the side effects.

Artisanal cocktails in a Swedish bar in Chinatown, waiting half an hour for each round and paying twenty-five a pop. End of the months spent counting every dollar.

And your mother, she just doesn’t get it.
“Honey, that’s more than I’ll ever make.”

I sigh and won’t tell her about how grossly underpaid I am, or how I spend half of my money on rent alone.

Side effects. The things you have left behind that still come back and haunt you. Like the memories of living alone, in a studio three stops from the city center. Octobers spent hiding from the world. Red wine and one long goodbye.

I thought it was all a dream. And who’s to say it wasn’t?

We poured shots, mixing tequila with sambuca like we would be young forever. I felt like everything I wanted was just a drunken wish away.

And it kind of was.

I wished for New York so bad until I didn’t. When the day arrived, I stepped on that plane. Hungover and confused; New York could sense it. It took everything I had and gave me cheap replicas in return.

It’s like when you chip a nail and try painting the flaw away. But you can tell from the outlines; what’s broken can’t be fixed. The sweet smell of acetone, just wipe it all clean and start over.

Side effects. This city paints a thin line between anonymous and nobody.

Would it be better to make it big in a small town than be mediocre in the greatest city in the world?

I am so great at these facades. See what I’ve dreamt up, mixing Instagram filters and media mentions and LinkedIn posts. Doesn’t my thousand dollar patent leather boot just scream I’m a big city girl now.

The one that made it.

The one that got away.

Blah blah all that.

Can I tell you a secret? I hated New York. I was sick and anxious, hiding panic attacks in the dressing room of Forever 21.

But nobody tells you about these side effects.

And so you keep on scrolling along, one illusion at a time.

Christine Göös