Black coffee doesn’t taste the same across oceans. Or, maybe it does and my tastebuds have just changed. Surely not. Instant coffee containers line the counter, waiting to be paired with boiling water and a bit of oat milk to mask the stale taste. I know what it is, my wallet has changed.
The big world makes me feel small, and continuously broke. My smile tilts differently here when I meet the eyes of strangers, everything seems like an adventure. My ears tingle with new accents and my nose with spices.
No one told me about the growing pains.
Now, I’ve finally become comfortable. Pressing myself against a stranger and suppressing the urge to make eye contact has become a routine I can’t imagine being lost.
Getting BOGO burgers with the girls at our favorite bar is a luxury that I was too busy to appreciate until we were counting how many Tuesdays we had left on a single hand.
People tell you that there will be culture shock. Sure. A multicultural city will do that. But, the real growing pains come when you’re being forced to say goodbye. When a month away from departure you have to make fast plans to get it all in. When you have to remember to look for a job and find a way to stay in touch with your new family.
I thought I had the worst of it in week 8. I missed my coffeemaker and boyfriend’s hugs goodbye. That feeling hasn’t changed, but now it’s been suppressed by the idea that all of this is almost over. I’m going to leave this world I’ve made a home in and introduce a new Makenna to everyone I left behind a few months ago.
It’ll be little things. An “I miss Z and the market” or “I wish D were here to try this matcha.” It’ll be that I have to say I don’t eat meat, stopping before I tell whoever it may be that my body’s response to cleaner meat made me never want to touch another piece of chicken in the US again. Or that I thrift my clothes because London taught me that there are hidden treasures in every charity shop.
I’m not sure I’ve voiced how grateful I am to be in this place. I’ve learned so much about myself and values. I’ve learned how to look for new neighborhoods because it’s not about the city you’re in, but the people who live in it. Every place is different, even if it’s just a 20 minute walk away. I’ve made forever friends here, and a forever connection to the Swinging City and all its wonders.
Here’s to four more weeks and a few more growing pains.