Every summer for, oh, maybe the past three years or so, I have begun to write a piece that I’ve repeatedly (doggedly) titled “The August Syndrome.” I even had a catchy subtitle: “On the migratory habits of my friends.” I’ve had this sense that August, which up until my working adult life was a hot and lazy waste of a month, was actually the worst possible thing in your twenties: all the proper adults with money and copious time off hit the road, leaving Brooklyn this weird sweaty wasteland and you’re drinking $8 beers in abandoned lots that have been converted to bars and you’re generally not happy. But then, that’s mostly because you’re at said bars for goodbye parties.
Because my friends all moved to New York after graduation, and a few of them love it and will never leave, but most of us will leave, and some of us love it, and some of us will return, but when you spend a few years here (and I’ve gone huge swaths of time without even leaving the five boroughs; I often feel…mired?) the thought of leaving grows into something that’s annoyingly large and unmanageable. At least for me, anyway. So the past few years I’ve said goodbye to close friends and less-close friends, mostly off to school of some sort, but a few just off to build a life somewhere else. The August Syndrome makes you question what you’re doing here, even if you’ve been perfectly happy the other eleven months of the year. That, and I hate the heat.
But 2013: never mind all that. Because I’m leaving New York in July.
By last August, I understood the flaw in my logic: I wasn’t so much jealous of the people leaving as frustrated by the desire to go and the lack of a reason to do it. And to be fair, I believe some people have left because they didn’t know what else to do, career stalling or whatever. I didn’t want that; I wanted a place to move to, not just a reason to leave New York. So it was around this time last year that I started to give it some serious thought. The ‘where’ wasn’t so complicated. In the end, the ‘what’ wasn’t too hard, either.
First I’ll spend the racing season in Saratoga, from mid-July to Labor Day. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to do more than a day at the race track, and I’m weirdly thrilled to be headed back to take bets for six weeks. But then after that, I’m moving to London. !!! And it’s true that I have a deeply complicated relationship with the city, but at the heart of that is love, and it’s been so long since I’ve lived in the UK (six years!) that I think I’m long overdue. The exchange rate has improved dramatically.
It’s the ‘what’ I’m most excited about, though. (That might be slightly untrue; I’m really alarmingly thrilled about the ‘where’.) I’m choosing between two Master’s programs in the Digital Humanities—a field that sits at the intersection of scholarly humanities work and technology. It seems to be the most absurdly logical extension of my career thus-far that I could possibly imagine, which is good! Better than good. The promise of having a bonafide reason to set foot in the British Library, beyond “I just want to look at the Magna Carta,” is kind of overwhelmingly awesome.
There are mundane but knotty issues to sort out: I need to dismantle a life in New York, and build some semblance of a life in London, all the while transporting a cat across the ocean (one who, like most cats, barely tolerates a short car ride). But details, details. I’m not worried right now. It’s the big picture that’s coming into focus.