Haasch: LA to the left, NYC to the right. Here I am.

Stuck in the middle at the University of Minnesota, I manage attachment to multiple cities by focusing on the present.

Palmer Haasch

I have lived in a lot of places. In the past year and a half, I’ve spent no more than four consecutive months in one location, and as a result, there’s a small set of cities to which I feel personally connected. I lived in Los Angeles for three months and then spent a semester in Minneapolis. I studied abroad in southern France for a semester and then moved to New York City for the summer. Visits to my hometown have been sprinkled in the transitional periods.

At this point, I feel disconnected from all of them. Even my two anchor cities — Omaha (my hometown) and Minneapolis — feel somewhat unfamiliar after being gone for so long. Jumping from city to city made moving routine, even if I’m no better at shoving my life into a suitcase than I was when I started temporarily moving around.

However, it’s lead to bursts of bizarre feelings and detachment: I visited New York City recently to watch my dad run the New York City Marathon. Returning to the city felt painfully correct, and for a moment I was able to slip back into the freedom of my life from this summer. Coming back to Minneapolis and student life felt just as jarring as it was when I first moved back to the Twin Cities.

For college students — especially for those of us who are seniors — it can feel like we’re being pulled in a million different directions. Everyone’s experiences are different, but the unease of transition and relocation either for school or afterward is arguably universal.

After a year of moving, I’m not quite sure where I belong. Nowhere feels quite right; everywhere I go, I’m thinking of somewhere else. I miss events and developing friendships no matter where I am, and I’m fearful of what will happen to my friendships when I graduate and likely move to New York City. I don’t know if I’ll ever live in Minneapolis again.

These anxieties and my current sense of displacement won’t go away anytime soon. I’ve accepted there’s not much I can do to assuage them. What I’m trying to do, and what I suggest to anyone else experiencing similar feelings, is to focus on the now. That phrase is cringe-worthy enough to feature on an inspirational mug, but it has also been my mantra as of late.

Longing for New York City won’t get me there. Lamenting future long-distance friendships won’t prevent eventual challenges. However, what I can do is appreciate where I am and try to anchor myself as much as possible.

I only have a little bit of time left in Minneapolis with my friends. Every weekend back in my hometown is a rare chance to spend time with my family. Glimpses into a New York City future will eventually be realized. Despite displacement, it’s important to anchor ourselves in the moment and appreciate where we are now. Wherever we’re coming from and wherever we’re going, everything will work out in the end.