Calum McSwiggan

The Broken City of Dreams

In Eat, Love on November 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm

New York City
 ‘That’s the thing about a human life- there’s no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed.’

– Elizabeth Gilbert

The violent images of Hurricane Sandy tearing through New York flashed up on the television screen behind me as I sat on the floor reading through my insurance policy. I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason, and tried not to feel too sorry for myself, I may have been facing losing all of the savings I’d poured into a trip around America, but people on the other side of the world were being evacuated, losing their homes, and in some extreme cases, even losing their lives.

I had to remind myself that every single part of my journey so far has been seamless; everything has fallen into place so neatly that it’s as if everything has been pre-destined. I feel like I’ve spent the last six months falling through the days and the months, following breadcrumbs that have lead me to each destination, never second-guessing myself and just going with each opportunity that has presented itself. It was the roll of a dice that determined my trip to Ibiza, pointing blindly at a map that decided my journey to Frankfurt, and a job that I don’t remember applying for that landed me in Switzerland.

And during this decision-less lifestyle, there have been many times when I’ve questioned whether or not I was on the right path, I kicked and screamed when my ­ex-fiancé decided to kick me out of his life and shack up with a ginger, I threw all of my toys out of the pram when my scholarship to study abroad was retracted, and I slammed all the doors in a flying rage when I didn’t get a job that I had so sorely wanted- but in hindsight I can see why all of these things happened, and how all of these things lead to where I am today.

If I had stayed with my ex I would have never chased a boy to Berlin, if I had been granted a scholarship to study abroad I would have never fallen in love with the locals in Frascati, and if I’d gotten the job I’d originally wanted, I would have never danced on the tables at Oktoberfest.

I realise now that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now, and exactly where I was always going to be- I was never going to be flying over the Grand Canyon today, I was always going to be watching Spanish children argue in the street whilst writing this very blog post, everything is exactly as it should be.

And so instead of mourning all of the wonderful adventures I had planned, instead I choose to reflect on them with fondness, be content in the fact that these dreams were very nearly part of my reality, and think of them as warm memories rather than shattered dreams.

I remember the time that my friends and I celebrated Halloween in New York, crawling the streets of the city, doused in fake blood and sparkling with glitter, frightening children, and howling at the moon; I remember the time I marvelled at the majesty of Niagara Falls, feeling the cool spray across my face, and reflecting on everything that was good and true in my life; I remember the time I fell in love with the Nevada Desert, tasting the soft lips of a stranger and awe-gazing at the glittery sea of Vegas lights; and I remember devouring a divine Thanksgiving dinner, and then heading out on the open road, our bellies filled and our hearts soaring with happiness as we took a road trip down to Miami.

Perhaps if I had lived these dreams they wouldn’t have been as perfectly shaped as they are in my imagination, perhaps I would have got too drunk to remember Halloween in New York, perhaps Niagara Falls would have been so unbearably over-crowded that I would have left in frustration, perhaps there would have been no mysterious stranger to lock lips with in Las Vegas, and perhaps we’d have to cancel our road trip to Miami because of the food poisoning we got from the turkey.

But the most important thing to remember is that although I may have missed out on one adventure, it leaves a hole in my life, an empty void, a door to the uncharted- and who knows, maybe one day I will turn to one of my close friends and say, Hey, remember that time that Hurricane ruined my trip to America? That was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  1. This is beyond perfection. Your honesty, your brutal and uncompromising zest and positivity… all of it. J’agree.

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