A life is a difficult contraption to build, and an even harder one to preserve. Every environment I’ve been enveloped by has been surreal and self-contained, an exclusive experience for my eyes only. I spent the first eighteen years of my life holed up in northern New Jersey, itching for an opportunity to leave for good. University provided that for me—I moved to New York to study German and hoped I would one day be able to call the state my home. The longer I lingered, however, the more I realized that this could never be the case. The towering buildings and bustling avenues remained foreign to me.
I once again began to search for a way out. I scoured Zillow listings in Northern Indiana and calculated commute times to rural Pennsylvania. I spent my sophomore year in transit, bouncing between my dorm room in New York and my then girlfriend’s house in New Jersey. Two hours and fifty one minutes to get from one to the other—five hours and forty two minutes for the round trip. I performed this commute on a weekly basis for the entire year.
That life of mine was physically and financially taxing, and therefore needed to be scrapped. Again I sought out an escape plan, and ended up taking the well-worn path of studying abroad for my junior year. It was only natural that I ran to Germany—its language was my major and the complicated history had always piqued my interest. I remember the weeks leading up to my departure from America, and how unperturbed I was by the thought of leaving. Apart from a few friendly faces, there wasn’t much I would miss. At first, I was taken aback by my lack of anxiety. But upon further thought, I realized how characteristic that response was of my personality. I’d spent my life devising methods of disappearance—of course I was largely unbothered by this one.
I touched down in Berlin in August of 2022 and hit the ground running. I met my best friend and current girlfriend within a week of my arrival. My first night out ended with the sun rising—I pushed my comfort-craving body to its limits. I lost sleep and forgot to eat, smiling all the same. The world simultaneously grew and shrank. Anything outside the city’s borders ceased to exist. My cousin died in October and I gave myself a few minutes to mourn in a sunny field in Pankow. This life, though imbued with a certain vitality I’d always craved, was too heavy to keep around. My heart sank as I realized that I had to do away with it.
Up until that point, reinvention for me always denoted destruction. Changing my life meant uprooting all aspects of it, leaving no stone unturned. I didn’t know how to create something new without rejecting everything I built beforehand and running towards another world. This time felt different—running away actually had many emotional consequences. I was in a place where self-expression felt like a possibility, where a future seemed plausible. I began to realize that reinvention can be as simple as reconfiguration. I can change without abandoning everything that came before. In fact, the notion that I can ‘escape’ my own life is preposterous. That awfully corny quote about taking yourself wherever you go? Unfortunately enough, I now find it to be true.
I left for Ireland on the 20th of May in order to visit my parents before the upcoming summer session in Berlin. For three days we stayed in Terryglass, a small village in County Tipperary. On the second day, we journeyed to the place where my great-great Grandfather was born—a plot of land on a farm in the middle of nowhere. As I overlooked the vast field my family once called ‘home’, I thought about the various ways I’d attempted to evade myself. New Jersey to New York and back to New Jersey, a plane to Berlin in the last gasp of summer. My life has been a difficult contraption to build and an even harder one to preserve, but a worthy one to maintain.
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I am a multidisciplinary artist, creating music, collage and video work, and poetry under the name 'Mezzy Shivers'. In my spare time, I enjoy going on long walks in the woods with noise-cancelling headphones and taking photos of my friends.