Finding My Way to the City Life

Merchant City :)

“Order 944,” The Tim Hortons worker called out.

I walked up to the counter, and she handed me the brown paper bag with my lunch in it and the paper cup filled with my Americano with a single cream because apparently, in Scotland, I drink Americanos. I said thank you and walked out the open door onto the busy sidewalk with people hurrying past, and I head towards the grassy picnic area behind the Tim Hortons which feels like a small green oasis in the middle of the concrete that is never quiet. I sat down on the grass and pulled out my hashbrown and bacon and cheese bagel with Chipotle sauce. I loved Tim Hortons because the food tastes close to home. There were people around me sitting at the various picnic tables carrying on their conversations in their business casual clothes as if they were on their lunch break. Meanwhile, I still couldn’t conform to the European or British way of dressing up more often even for a small outing. I was too comfortable in my joggers, crop crewnecks, and Birks. It felt like me. Messy, casual, and nonconforming.

I took a bite of my hashbrown as my AirPods were flowing the latest Match Made in Manhattan podcast about three twenty-somethings living in New York City. The eight-year-old goal that I made at seventeen seemed so complex for me at times and was hanging over me while asking me if I was ever going to make it happen. The goal to move to New York City. As I listened to Katy, Colbie, and Adam’s lives in the city, it made me think of my own life that I had made for myself in the city I was living in currently.

Glasgow, Scotland.

Eighteen-year-old me thought twenty-five-year-old me would have been living in New York City for three years now, but that didn’t happen. Twenty-two-year-old me wanted to move to NYC so very badly, but couldn’t stand the idea of rushing into the city career life just yet. When I had just graduated college, I was coming off a semester in Europe and didn’t want to stop my travel dreams anytime soon. I went to Belize and then moved to Healy, Alaska for the summer. A town that was populated by 1,096 people which is bigger than my hometown, but like other Alaskan towns, the houses were spread out and not clustered together at all. Sometimes, it didn’t even feel like a town to me. More like a community. My twenty-two-year-old summer was a lot different than eighteen-year-old me imagined it. Instead of a New York summer, it was an Alaskan summer. It turned into me running on the winding road to Otto Lake trying to savage my long lost love for running, the sun never setting, showering in disgusting showers and venting to my roommate about it, eating bread and butter after the 3:30-midnight shift after everyone else had worked the 2:30–11 and were already in bed or out with friends, knocking on my friend’s door after work and us staying up until three or four in the morning listening to Taylor Swift, walking to the 24-hour gas station, and drinking free white raspberry mochas before work. The summer took place in the wide, open sky, mountainous Alaskan town only miles away from Denali National Park and Preserve. It was far from my Manhattan dream, and I was okay with that. Actually, more than okay with that because I didn’t want it to end.

After Alaska, a couple of months later I still didn’t find myself in New York, but in Park City, Utah working at a ski resort and now living in a bougie mountain town of over 7,000 people. I was freshly twenty-three. My Utah life turned into trips to Salt Lake City where the coffee and food were cheaper than PC’s, eating Einstein bagels, walking to the gas station to buy too many Dunkin’s bottled iced coffees, microwavable frozen meals, my friend and I wandering around Walmart, and walking up and down fancy Main Street. It was still far away from Manhattan, but I was becoming a little less okay with that. I didn’t know if I wanted to go to Manhattan, but I knew I wanted to find that career city life somewhere, but the question of where got answered for me which sent me packing up my life and moving back home to Illinois.

It turned into a year after I graduated, and I was entering my second year of post-grad. I was living at home with family once again in a country house outside of the tiny town where I had grown up. It was very far from my New York City or city dreams in general. New York was in the middle of an exodus that thankfully ended eventually, but at the time, I was adjusting to my Illinois life once again. It turned into going on walks on the gravel roads with the fam, riding my bike for miles on end, ab routine after ab routine, my mom’s cooking, daily four-hour facetimes, trips to Minnesota, train rides to Chicago, snowy drives to work, country music playlists on repeat, early mornings, late nights, new friends, lots of Mexican food, and trying to remake my life in a place I’d never thought I would live full-time again. The fun times were had, but my city and travel dreams never left and pushed me to move to Glasgow, Scotland.

The third year of post-grad and living in Glasgow turned into finally living in a city, walking along the busy city streets to get coffee, walks in the park where the grass never turns brown, trips to majestic, cobbled stoned Edinburgh, train rides all over the city and country, seeing the Highlands, classes on Zoom, and lots of social times. The months went on and on with me wondering once my grad program ends where am I going to go next.

The three-year mark of my college graduation happened two weeks ago, so that brings me to now. Sitting in my black, five-year-old joggers in the grass, Chipotle sauce dripping onto my ringed fingers, and Match Made in Manhattan playing in my headphones reminds me of my not forgotten New York dream. Things throughout the year had been reminding me of New York whether it was looking through my pictures from my trip there last summer, becoming obsessed with The Bold Type, watching Friends and How I Met Your Mother countless times, following NYC influencers, and just being in engulfed in the Glaswegian city life wondering what it would it be like to live in New York. I have loved living in Glasgow, and it has taught me so much about myself and city living.

I finished my bagel and kept listening to the podcast. If I would had listened to the podcast a year or two or three ago, I would have been full of longing for the hosts’ lives, but I’m glad I didn’t have the city life then. Not rushing into it brought me to see the highest mountain in North America, swim with sea turtles in Hawaii, meeting the people I met, experience rooftops in Chicago, bike twelve miles in Denali National Park with people I hardly knew, and learn the various learning experiences that made me who I am today. I’m grateful for the path I took because I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.

But now, I do realize how much I created the dream city life I had been wanting for years. Yes, I am very excited to get a job at a library or something to do with books in the near future, but otherwise, I have been living my dream city life. My apartment is in the midst of city life with an easy walk to so many things, great friends have been made, knowing my way around the city, having social plans, and public transportation to dart you around where you need to go. I miss my family and friends who don’t live here every day, but when I think about my Glasgow life only gratitude overflows me. There have been plenty of ups and downs, but I have reached so many dreams living here in Glasgow.

I don’t know where I’ll end up next year, but I’m so proud of the life I got lived in Glasgow and it’s been such a dream come true. The future times here in the city will be full of soaking it all in, living in the moment, and times that I’ll never take for granted.

Thanks for reading❤

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