Dear Reader: It’s November 22 and I can’t locate anything I need. Before you ask why, you should know that it's a very long story involving something old (NYC), something new (NYC), something borrowed (a rental), and something blue (my sometimes-mood these days). Read on…..
We’ve moved. My husband, the Silver Fox for those not in the know, got a big promotion and suddenly we’re living in New York City, the proverbial NYC. My first reaction when I heard this might be happening was muted horror. I don’t do well with big change. And I’d already uprooted myself in similar fashion to leave NYC 10 years ago - how could I go back there again? New York is scary. Loud. Overwhelming. And yet…..
I’ll tell you why not. I moved to back to the DC area 10 years ago this month after living in New York ever since grad school (with a small detour to Europe). I was seeking refuge from a painful divorce and I was struggling as a single Park Slope mom; I needed my family, but it was also a dramatic and traumatic change for both my 10 yr old son, the Offspring, and for me. But as it often happens in life (especially when you’re in musical theatre for some reason), God closes a door in Brooklyn and opens a window in Rockville (cue Mother Abbess). Silver Fox and I married, I established myself in the DC theatre scene and I started teaching at a couple of universities. The Offspring grew up and went to college. Life was good, and full, and settled.
So when Silver Fox announced we were moving to New York because of HIS JOB, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Or a sequin. Or an eyelash for that matter. I mean, he’d asked if I’d be open to it before he applied, but things are always evolving with his save-the-world work so I was skeptical it would happen. And then it did.
Wait, gentle reader. There’s more.
As we were sitting at dinner one night, discussing where we might live, Silver Fox said “Why not Brooklyn?”
“Why not BROOKLYN???” I sputtered.
This week we move into an apartment in, you guessed it, Park Slope Brooklyn, just south of my old stomping ground, and no one’s more astonished than I. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I went back to Rockville, despite what the REM song advises, so now it’s back to the Slope.
Right now the apartment looks like this…:
And suddenly it’s Thanksgiving morning and I can’t find the turkey baster or the instant-read thermometer, much less the the forks, and my life feels like our apartment looks.
I can tell you all the ways this is hard and chaotic. Change is hard. Moving is hard. Fitting the four-story-house of our lives into four rooms is a mess, and not just literally. Leaving thriving students, dear friends and neighbors who are like family, and actual family-family makes me weep, often. I worry about the Offspring (yes every parent worries, but still….), the weekly commute to American University (yes, I kept my position there) is the height of insanity, and #CityDog can’t figure out how to pee on a sidewalk.
But the very hardest part is coming back to this place that thrilled and terrified me as a younger woman. Maybe, like shedding the detritus of that four-floored house, it’s necessary. I have unfinished business with myself, and I feel it every time I walk down the street. Dipping my toe back into the New York pond feels like skydiving or bungee-jumping must: the kind of risk you take when you know you’re about to do something really scary and a little nuts that might not go very well but you also know you might kind of like it so you do it anyway. I can’t quite tell if that shiver in my belly, that zap of energy I feel on the New York City sidewalks is fear and insecurity or excitement with a dash of welcome and comfort.
My brilliant friend Matt Conner wisely said that life is a series of commas; this change is just another one, it seems. And it’s funny because I am always encouraging my students to do the work, be themselves and let the rest, the zigs and the zags, happen, but I find myself nervous about taking my own advice. I’m a grown up, for goodness sake! Why prevaricate? The Silver Fox is in it with me to win it, and I with him. (I’d better be - he’s working his ass off.) So perhaps, despite the difficulties I see, there’s no better time to zig and to zag, and perhaps the only way to overcome my separation anxiety is to move forward boldly, to shed my suburban instinct to look both ways while crossing the city street and just go.
So on this quiet Thanksgiving morning, when the oven mitts are nowhere to be found and even the city that never sleeps is sleeping unless you’re at the parade so the fact that I forgot the bacon for the stuffing is going to be a problem, I am thankful, so thankful, for the friends, students and family that I love and miss but still have, and for the chance to try this all again.
And I have to think everything will be alright. I will keep you posted on the stuffing.