Between Disney movies and Carrie Bradshaw, my generation grew up with the idea that our purpose in life was to find that special person and never let go. We search in cafes, bookstores, and clubs for The Right One. To this day, I cringe at the thought of leaving my apartment without at least looking semi-put together. Who knows who I might bump into! The Sex in the City motto of dating and dating until we find the right partner became the crux of our existence. From middle school Valentine’s Day crushes, to high school dance escorts, and towards college study buddies, everything centered on dating.
At the same time that my life seemed bent on finding The One, I had to also balance growing up hearing that my perfect significant other would not be the epitome of a checklist. I was told that there would be characteristics that I loved, some that I envied, and others that I hated. However, this notion did not keep my peers or me, from continuing our search for the ideal one. As a result, I have a collection similar to the Bradshaw diaries, in which I can put catchy names and qualities to each.
Having been away from the cultural shove towards partnership that now epitomizes the Western culture, I have learned that we never truly walk away from that desire. Rather, mine has transformed itself into a drive to see the world. Instead of dating stories, I crave travel stories; cities I can recall with catchy names and qualities.
Each day I wake up, wondering what this current city will hold for me. Will it fit all the things on my (let’s face it, long) checklist? Or possibly hold some new trait I did not know to add? Maybe this city will teach me what qualities I cannot stand: the obnoxious partner too absorbed in its own matters to bother with the rest.
On the other hand, this city might be the traditional romantic: sweet and genteel, but rather predictable. As an escape, a move to a city far away from the former, where there is the potential for wild and reckless: a partner that dances to its own drum.
So, maybe I have broken away from the mainstream goals of my peers. Instead of cycling through people, I cycle through cities, looking for the city that meets my expectations.
I want a city that represents my Monday morning, my Thursday afternoon, and my Saturday night: all in one package. I am constantly on the roam for the one that I could introduce to my parents and yet be comfortable with in front of my friends.
A city that embraces the worst parts of me and questions the best parts, where the culture beats like the heart of two star-crossed, adventurous, reckless, careless lovers.
I want a winter city with its hearth just warm enough for some chocolate by the fire and window out of which to watch the flurries fall onto the purple mountains. I lust for a spring city with its rows of tulips pristine and waiting while the canals glisten by the cobbled walkways. I dream of a summer city where the days grow hot and long but the drinks and temples stand cool. Finally, I yearn for a fall city where the leaves create hills of copper and gold, a personal road to El Dorado.
So, Carrie Bradshaw taught me well. She taught me to set my standards high, but more importantly she taught me that we all have The One that is right for different times in our life. For that reason, I am a nomad at heart and will continue to wanderlust my way through the cities of the world collecting all The Right Ones.