Life is change. This is an undeniable truth to our existence. Change is necessary for growth and a deeper understanding of self, whether we like it or not. The last four years have brought immense changes to my life: my beautiful Momma died, I finished my dissertation and graduate studies, I moved three times — the last time to Texas to take a new full-time teaching gig at Texas A&M … and now I’m bracing for yet another huge change.
It’s no secret that Ed and I don’t like Texas. Don’t get me wrong, the job and Texas A&M are great, but Texas … let’s just say that we aren’t fond of it. We’re middle-aged New Yorkers who are used to a certain level of convenience that NYC provides; and we desperately miss the beauty of the East Coast, especially that of New York State and Massachusetts. Ed will tell you that he misses pizza and bagels, and the ability to go to a shopping mall or Trader Joes without driving over an hour to do so. And when we do travel an hour or two to get to New Hope, PA or New Paltz, NY there are things on the way to see and do. Unlike Texas, the majority of the TriState Area is a sprawl. You don’t feel like you’re traveling between islands with a huge expanse of prairie in-between like you do here in Texas. This has been the biggest barrier for us in Texas because Ed hates to drive, I don’t drive, and you quickly find out that there’s really not that much to do in those individual town-islands. For us, Texas’s quaint charm quickly got old, fast.
Me, I miss the ability to get on a train or bus and be anywhere in the TriState area within minutes or hours. I desperately miss hopping up the subway stairs, walking everywhere, and running to catch this or that mode of transportation. NYC kept me healthy and fit because walking, running, and climbing stairs are part of everyday life. Here in Texas I get no “ambient” exercise. We need to join a gym just to walk the amount that we want to. It’s too hot here to do much of anything outside and you need to take a car everywhere.
I miss the big stuff like the museums, NYPL, Metropolitan Opera, and wealth of cultural offerings. But, it’s the little, everyday stuff that I miss the most … like the changing seasons, gardening, and curling up on the couch to watch the snow fall. I miss fiddle heads in the spring, zucchini in the summer, and apples in the fall. I desperately miss the bodegas and delis, a slice of Roman pie from Villa Monte, and delicious water from the tap. I never realized just how much my happiness depends on the small, mundane rituals of everyday life like getting a good, hot cup of coffee in almost any deli, or walking down Madison Avenue or 5th Avenue to unwind after a particularly difficult day.
I never realized that the intensity of Manhattan fueled my brain and heart, while the
bucolic landscapes of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains healed my soul. I took a lot for granted in New York, and it took a move to Texas to really come to appreciate everything I ever had … how it makes me who I am, how it fuels my research and teaching, how it keeps me sane in this insane world.
At 45 years old, I refuse to compromise my happiness for the illusion of stability. I watched my Mom grow increasingly depressed because she hated her life. I watched her become her ailments to the point of letting them kill her. I watched her wallow in the “what ifs,” the “should haves” and the “one days.” I know deep in my heart that she eventually died of a broken heart. In these past few months, I have been following in my Mom’s footsteps. I complained about arthritis, — Goddess, how much my joints hurt here in Texas! — how much I hate it here, how much I wish I could be back in NYC. I’ve been angry and depressed. I have a full-time gig, after all; — the Holy Grail of academics. I’d be crazy to give up a full-time teaching gig because I’m miserable.
Do you hear how UTTERLY STUPID that sounds? Yeah, I do too. So with that said, Ed and I are moving back to New York in June. “What about your job, Curious Professor Z?” Things are in the works … that’s all I’ll say at the moment. For now the big news is that we’re going home. Home to our family and friends (though we did make some awesome friends here). Home to pizza, bagels, delis, and bodegas. Home to summer camping, apple and pumpkin picking, and day trips to New Hope, New Paltz, and Sleepy Hollow. Home to weekend trips to Salem and Washington DC. Home to everything that makes my heart sing. Yes, we’ll need to sell our house. Yes, we’ll need to pack and move our stuff halfway across the country again. Yes, this is going to be exhausting. BUT, in the long run we’ll be home and happy … and I’m never, ever going to take New York City for granted again!
Onwards and upwards, my friends! Here’s to new adventures!