When my friends in NYC found out I was moving (most of them found out on my blog Fergie & Fife) they all asked, “What the heck is Fife??” I’d spent the majority of my twenties convinced I was “a lifer” in NYC. I couldn’t imagine living or wanting to live anywhere else. When I described to my friends that I was heading to an adorable, peaceful, largely rural university town on the North Sea, with a population of less than 17,000, they said, “So you’re basically moving to the opposite of New York.”
And for a while, as I prepared to uproot my life there and head over here, it really did feel that way. I needed St. Andrews to feel like the opposite of New York.
Now that I’m here, have settled into a group of friends I adore, and made it through the first week of classes, I’ve reconsidered my need for St. Andrews to be the anti-New York.
Because it’s not. Don’t get me wrong– in every way that I need St. Andrews to be different, it is. I don’t always feel like I’m late, like I’m rushing, like I’m letting someone down.
When you step out onto the street, the stress isn’t hovering over everyone like in NYC, but the sidewalks are bustling and busy.
The first weekend I was here I saw a new musical. It felt just like what I did most evenings in NYC– checking out the new works of young musical theatre writers.
There are more coffee shops for me to go write in than I know what to do with. Except here, you can actually get a seat.
I can’t tell you how many art gallery parties I went to in NYC– most of them with completely ??? art and @#%& people. I’ve never had a better experience in an art gallery than I did one rainy afternoon at the Fraser Gallery.
The mostly non-chain shop fronts feel like the cutest neighborhood in NYC– the ones where artists can’t actually afford to live– like the West Village. But here, you don’t feel overwhelmed by your inability to take it all in. At some point in New York, you just stop seeing all there is around you. You just have to rush to the next thing.
What I love most about St. Andrews– being here, the way the air feels, the way the town feels– is the exact same feeling I had when I landed, camped, and set up shop in NYC. The feeling that I was taking my life by the reins and living it as hard as I could, as much as I could. The capable feeling, the unstoppable feeling, when you don’t live just a version of your dream life, but your actual dream life. Rooted in ancient history, this town feels wise enough, grounded enough to allow for far-flung launches. And there is still that same inclination to look up, always up– not at skyscrapers, but just at the sky.
I’m sure at some point I’ll experience some kind of homesickness for NYC, but I’m going to keep talking about how much I love this place, how much I love the creative spirit here, and how grateful I feel to be able to come to a place like this and do what I love– what I could not live without. Every day, I’m looking for everything there is love about being a creative person in this town. Every new place I can discover that makes me feel as grateful as I do right now. That’s where I’m looking to go– and hoping you’ll come with me.