When an impending global economic crisis started to be discussed last Summer, I was firmly in denial about its potential magnitude and impact on my life.
My state of oblivion rapidly changed by the Autumn, when the company I work for announced a 10% reduction of its workforce and I had the horrendous experience of having to let one of my team members go and watch some of my friends lose their jobs. Since then, there is hardly a week passing by at work without yet another alarmist communication from our executive team about new cost cutting measures, salary cuts or how incredibly challenging the current economic environment is.
Adverts on TV have noticeably changed in their tone and nature too in the past few months - from an increasing deluge of commercials about financial security, credit control and retail sales, to even more overt references to our precarious situation like the new ad from Hundai where consumers are encouraged to buy a new model with the guarantee that Hundai will take the car back if they lose their income within a year of purchase.
The bleakness has also spread to the streets of Manhattan. I realized a couple of weeks ago while walking around my neighbourhood that a few restaurants are now either closed or closing and that "For Rent" signs seem to adorn every other shop windows. On Tuesday this week, when Marie & I had planned to grab a couple of drinks at a local wine bar after our gym workout, we were surprised to see that it had closed early. It seems that a lot of establishments throughout the City are doing the same these days. The NY mag even wrote an article about it here.
In these circumstances, it can sometimes be hard to keep a positive outlook on the future. I like to think that I have dealt with a high amount of uncertainty, doubt and risk in the last two years of my personal life but I don't think that anything has prepared me enough for the road ahead and the challenges of 2009. This year will be a test of strength, resilience and adaptability for me and many people.
Will I lose my job? If I do, or decide to leave of my own accord, the chances of getting a visa are now null and I will be forced to move back to London jobless and with a sense of unfinished "New York business" ... The thing is that I love taking risks and yet I hate uncertainty. I crave and actively seek out adventure but secretly yearn for safety. I love surprises but I hate not being in control of my destiny. A constant state of dichotomy shared by many I am sure.
At least even if my New York adventure is cut short, it will be with the knowledge that I lived it to its fullest. It hasn't always been as easy, fun or even as glamourous as it may have appeared on this blog, but it has been incredibly intense and life-forming. I never do anything by half and this has been no exception.
The thing about not being in control however is that you have no choice but surrender yourself to fate - for better or for worse. So for now, I am enjoying each day as it comes and relishing every new memory that this fantastic City is helping me create.