Girl Abroad: Climate Change

FLARE's Girl Abroad, Mosha Lundström Halbert, finds her footing amid the nonstop Manhattan whirl

climate change

Top left: The writer. Top right: Her sister, Sophie. Right: Happy together in NYC

“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of New York in The Great Gatsby. As I hop between Toronto and NYC on business a fair bit, the same idea strikes me on those sweeping drives from LaGuardia back into the city. This is not a metropolis for the metathesiophobic—those who suffer from chronic fear of change are wise to avoid Manhattan and all the sporadic, sped-up muck that comes with it. But if, like me, you crave a frequent pulling of the carpet, you might just thrive here.

It certainly helps untangle one from the bed linens each morning knowing the day will bring boundless turns. But while these shifts can be witnessed on a surface level—like the overnight gentrification of a strip of shops near my apartment, or the hauntingly peaceful seminary on our block that’s been carved out between a pricey hotel and a condo development (OMG monastic style is trending), I’ve experienced them deeper still when it comes to relationships. New York has a visceral effect on them—bonds are either strengthened or shredded overnight. The city certainly had this turnaround effect on my most tortured relationship: the one with my younger sister. (You too?)

We lived apart for years (with her in Vancouver, Berlin and Bogotá), barely speaking due to calcified petty resentments compounded by my critical eye and her more openhearted nature, until she came to the city for an internship this spring. It was my better half’s idea that she live with us; I insisted it would end in ugliness. Instead, the new setting allowed for a ceasefire. Within a couple of months, she was offered a permanent job and moved to Bushwick, Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly evolving neighbourhoods in North America. (See: cult pizza place Roberta’s, which recently had a cameo on Girls.) Through our shared adventures—be they soju-soaked karaoke duets or inventing new recipes centred on sriracha—we found our version of peace. While we still have the odd spat (actually, she just left mine in a huff over my unsolicited advice), our relationship has done a 180.

On the topic of drastic changes, after day one in my Big New Job (for a major retailer), I knew that this particular change had not been for the better. In an attempt to keep a forward momentum, I had let my hunger for change transform me into someone who hid behind an impressive title regardless of the lack of fulfillment in the work. Thankfully, an opportunity to return to publishing soon presented itself. It came rather quickly, this being New York, and now the fear of stagnancy no longer looms. Just like those impressive drives into the city, it’s not the bold new skyscrapers that move me, but rather the reliable visual rivalry between the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Like my sister and me, they’re standing their ground as the city swirls around them.