Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Three years this weekend

We moved here three years ago Thanksgiving. The movers came the Saturday before, we drove up to Amherst on Sunday and met them there. Then we drove back to Brooklyn that night and spent the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday tying up loose ends. Lily went to school, her final three days at PS 261 (that thought still breaks my heart; I have never loved a school the way I loved PS 261), and her class threw her a goodbye party. Dave had a dentist appointment and I did, who knows what. Visited friends, had a dentist appointment also, I think.

That Wednesday night Lily and I drove out to Dave's mom's on Long Island and we had Thanksgiving, just like always. Then on Saturday night we packed our bags, said our goodbyes, and drove to our new home in Amherst, Massachusetts.

It's incredibly momentous, this kind of move. I don't think I fully understood that at the time. I can't imagine what my grandparents went through when they went from Budapest to Germany to the States in just four years.

My changes weren't instigated by World War II, but this was life-changing nonetheless, life-changing the way my wedding was life-changing, or giving birth was. I remember thinking, okay, now I am doing this, I am actually here at my wedding day, getting married, and walking through this time, and a similar experience with having Lily.

And here, to move from the place where just a few years earlier I swore I would never leave, to this utterly new land, new people, no job, no community and, for Lily and I, no friends. She likes living here, she says now, but at the time she said, I don't want to move, not one bit. And I know we broke her heart that day.

Everything is different, and in a way, nothing has changed. I am still me, which is oddly reassuring. Perhaps I thought I wouldn't be the same person if I left New York. In fact, I am still me, no matter what.

I just came back from picking up a poinsettia from a parent at Lily's school who was selling them for a fundraiser. Lily rode shotgun, giving me directions off the GPS. It took 20 minutes to go five miles and back, and we got gas on the way back. When we came home I parked at the mailbox and Lily got the mail. Then I put the car in the garage and before coming in picked up an armful of smaller sticks to use as kindling tomorrow when I restart the woodstove. All mundane, and none of it anything I would have done in Brooklyn, except maybe stop at the mailbox on the way into our apartment building.

We have company coming tonight, my friend Blair from high school and her family, and I spent the last couple of days dusting and vacuuming and mopping and straightening. I went to the grocery store and food coop four times, literally, in about 15 hours. Kept forgetting stuff. Ran into people I knew, chatted with, hung out a bit. Felt like I had enough time, that I could get it all done, that it would be okay.

And now my house smells good, like the cranberry pecan bread I also just baked, and a tinge of the incense that I burned to get rid of the smell of the bleach I used to clean the Japanese soaking tub, and the turkey stock I made today for the stuffing, and very faintly, Murphy's Oil Soap. I made toffee tonight, first time in a couple of years, and couldn't decide if I should put it in the big freezer in the laundry room in the basement, which is kinda full, or in my unheated studio. Dave opted for the studio, saying, it'll be 40 tonight, it'll be fine. So there it is.

Early this evening, as I was talking to Dave, I looked behind him out the window toward the street, and the trees had that stark, winter, empty, skeletal look, a row of them, oaks and maples, spread out against this incredible sky, this wintery, gray, kind of glowing white sky. It took my breath away.

Life is like that here. I still catch my breath at the natural beauty. Nothing is the same here, and nothing has changed. Or maybe what's not changed is that I still have Dave and Lily, and even deeper than before, perhaps; we've all been through something profound by moving here. When we drove away from Brooklyn that last time I played Dan Zanes's song Wonder Wheel and sobbed. Just sobbed. David Fischer had sent us a link to Iris Dement playing her song Our Town, along with Emmy Lou Harris, and we'd all three of us gathered around the computer and broke down over that one.

How can I say this. They can still make me teary, those songs. I love riding the Wonder Wheel, and I remember being up there one gorgeous night the summer before we moved, and how I could see the world extending to the horizon and beyond. Our Town says, "just like they say, nothing good ever lasts." Nope, it doesn't. But what I know now is, that's okay. I am okay.

It's good tears. It's okay tears, a sadness for what has been, for my life there of nearly 20 years, the friends, the light, the buildings, the tremendous life changes and the mundane daily nonsense that made up my days. The people, the people, the people. God, I love New York. But it was just time to go, and I'm glad we had the financial ability and the intestinal fortitude to make such a big change.

[I will say, it's also a sadness for what Lily lost, for the opportunity she missed by growing up in Brooklyn. I so wanted that for her. She would have had a great teenaged life there, I think, some great friends, some extraordinary experiences. But I also felt and feel strongly that a) if her parents are happier, she'll be happier, and we were going to be happier in western Massachusetts, and b) she needs this time here, in the country, where the rhythm is slower, the sky bigger, the silences longer. She can always have New York. She will certainly always have a life.]

Change isn't painful, it's the resistance to it that hurts, a friend said to me recently, and she's right. I didn't fight this change, and it didn't hurt. Saying goodbye hurt, but the change didn't hurt, if that makes sense. It was powerful. But it wasn't hard, it was wonderful.

And now, three years later, I can say this unequivocally: I don't want to move back. I wouldn't mind seeing my NYC friends more, or eating some fresh mozzarella and real bagels, to hear more languages, and see more skin colors. But I don't want to move back. I wouldn't move back.

1 comment:

  1. Yay!!!! An entry. I still check everyday, you know? And, I wouldn't want you to move back either because you're so happy there, but I DO miss you tons and love hearing your voice on this blog. happy tday, dear friend!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.