I’d been away from the office for two weeks and strolled in expecting a nice warm ‘welcome back’.
Instead, I was met by a strange man sat in my chair, sat at my desk.
The man sat in my chair, sat at my desk, by some coincidence, also had the same name as me.
The man sat in my chair, sat at my desk, with my name, by some coincidence, also had the same job title as me.
The man sat in my chair sat at my desk with my name and my job was, the company reassured me, not a direct replacement for me and I wasn’t to worry, it’s not permanent, but would I also mind moving to New York immediately?
Of course, I couldn’t really turn it down so without giving myself time to mull over or talk myself out of it, I went for it. New York is the home of much of my childhood – namely the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Ghostbusters (my two biggest pre-teen obsessions) as well as Spiderman and (let’s be honest) it’s basically Gotham City so Batman sort of lives there too. This made me feel lots better about my decision.
Fast forward a few weeks following two intense interviews at the U.S. Embassy and I was treated to a lovely sending off party. Even though the company had hired someone with my name and my job title to sit in my seat at my desk, and were now throwing me what felt suspiciously like a leaving do with a goodbye speech and presents, I was told not to worry because this definitely wasn’t permanent. I didn’t really have time to process much about this potentially life-changing decision because they also got me a balloon and a hat to distract me.
When I broke the news to friends and family their reactions surprised me. Many of them said things like ‘I always knew you’d end up there’ and ‘you really suit it out there’ or ‘New York is just right for you’.
I think they meant it in a nice way but what it felt like they were saying a bit was… we think you belong thousands of miles away from everything you know and love, you aren’t a good fit for here so please go far away and try it over there, maybe you’ll have more luck?
When I kept getting this ‘you fit America’ reaction it forced me to reflect on why I might be giving off this vibe. A few people who’ve known me a long time pointed out the fact that I’ve always had a picture of the Manhattan skyline somewhere on a wall or canvas somewhere, from childhood bedrooms to my university dorm and even my current place in Bristol. It was a trend I hadn’t really clocked but I’ve always been drawn to the city in some way.
Perhaps this is the ultimate ‘Fix Rick’. Perhaps I’ve just been in the wrong country all this time, that’s all. Maybe the land of the free and the home of the brave would be the answer.
And so there was no turning back, not now the company had got me an America balloon and a hat. I was going to do it. I would have an american adventure in the city that never sleeps.