What a grand idea it is to venture to a new, exciting place, far away from home! This is an escapade, a new setting that offers adventure and the fulfillment of your wildest dreams.
Have you ever wondered why so many New Yorkers are chronically grouchy? I think it’s because so many people have come to attain their dreams, and didn’t realize how much work it would take. I didn’t realize, coming to Architecture school here at Pratt, that my dreams would cost me 60 or so hours a week in a sweaty studio, grinding away at different models with intense conceptual backdrops, only to get worn down by critics. Before leaving Texas, I didn’t spare a thought about being painfully homesick, torn by the tension of wanting to be with my friends and family over 1,000 miles away. I didn’t think about what I would feel: loneliness, tire, confusion, and uncertainty. The thought of leaving is exhilarating, until you leave; realizing all you left behind.
I find clarity in the story of the Jew’s exodus of Egypt, just after leaving the slavery that the pharaoh had them in. These dudes, God’s chosen people, just came from a place where they felt completely rejected. They’ve been brutally enslaved for 400 years despite Joseph’s good works in Egypt. Suddenly, God gives them the opportunity to leave and go to a new place, a place so good, it was called “the promised land," and it flowed with “milk and honey.” I’ve never had milk and honey combined, but it kinda sounds fantastic. On the way, God guided them with a cloud by day and pillars of fire by night. I wish God was always that blatantly clear about our paths. God even provided food for them every day. You would think the Israelites would think they have it made, even making an appearance on MTV Cribs, “Yo, so this is my tent, there is my wife, there’s the Manna (free food forever? Dope), and hey, there’s the tabernacle, with the pillar of fire in the background, kinda lit ya know? This is def better than being a slave!” This wasn’t their attitude though. Rather, they were bitter at the monotony of eating the same thing every day, or the labor of packing up everything they own only to make inches of progress towards the faraway destination. They even had the audacity to ask God if they could go back to being slaves. Let me repeat that. They wanted to be slaves. Isn’t that insane!? They would rather have the endless and meritless toil of enslavement instead of the discomfort and unfamiliarity of the journey to the promised land.
I wish I could say that New York City and Pratt was everything I’ve ever imagined and more. I feel like the idealized “New York” that I saw in movies and came on vacation to is not the same “New York” I live right now. The two cities share the same buildings, same streets, same subways, but they’re two very different atmospheres. This second city is a place where life actually happens, where I see more than just the city lights, and I feel things much harsher than happiness and amazement. I have really good days, and I have really bad days. I have days where I’m rapping “Empire State of Mind,” and days where all I can think about is the tune of “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You”.
I am in no way saying that Texas was my enslavement, but It’s important to realize that what I have going here for me is God’s plan. I stepped out in courage to come here, assured that God is guiding my path. I know that God has put me here for a purpose, which is what my hope is in, especially on days where I spend eight hours drawing squares inside of squares inside of squares or finagling with models that would be possible if gravity would just chill a little. Hope is the best thing I have; I think it’s the best thing anyone can carry in their suitcase. A realization of my purpose comes back to me when I’m moved by looking at architecture marvels in history, when I realize that my concepts for Design Studio are solid and it is something I’m proud to craft, or I’m inspired by nuances of architectural innovations like 3D printing or virtual reality video renderings. These things bring an excitement to me, an adrenaline in my veins, that acts as a guide. It’s my pillar of fire, and I’m moving towards what I was made to do.
One of my good friends told me, “What a blessing it is to feel,” and that is a vital realization. The feeling I have, even the hard ones, have a purpose outside of themselves. My nostalgia breeds thankfulness for my past. My inspired excitements lead to productivity. My loneliness produces a reliance on the Lord. I encourage anyone to step out and follow what God has for them, but know that it will not be easy, It won't be like a movie, and you will want to turn back. We got to remember to trust God, and remember the promise land. There's going to be milk and honey. Maybe even Oreos and coffee. Just Maybe.