Moving days are coming

coasttocoast

by Brooke

For the past four years, I have been expecting to move away. My hopes have wandered all over the country as my husband interviewed for teaching jobs at universities and colleges. You may be able to imagine how thrilled I was–my shock and joy, but not without some wariness (what if they changed their minds?)–when this February, my husband got that elusive job offer. We have been excitedly preparing for the move from southern California to southern Connecticut ever since.

But. There looms a sort of sadness, a kind of regret about leaving this home. It’s understandable as we have lived here for 8 years. I feel very comfortable. I know where things are. I still haven’t gone places and done things in the area that I heard were super cool. I have close, wonderful friends. My children, my husband, all of us have wonderful friends. And though we’ve said goodbye to good friends every summer, one of the hazards of living in the graduate student community, we have never had to say goodbye to everyone. Suddenly I’m not sure I want to to move anymore. I was desperate to have a good reason to leave this place that I knew would be only temporary. And now that it’s happening, everything has shifted. Part of me (about 51%) doesn’t want to go.

I have shifted from thinking about all the exciting things there will be to discover in our new home to all the unknowns that scare me. I have shifted from my constant stream of mental criticism of the Orange County lifestyle to savoring the weather and feeling nostalgic about the short drive to the beach even though I never felt like I owned it the way I did with familiar drives in my Utah home. Here, I have always felt more like a visitor than a resident–not ever quite at home (the general atmosphere is rather vacation-like). I’ve never felt like a true Californian, but now I’m afraid I will only feel like an outsider in our next place.

My only other big move as an adult was from Utah to here. We were moving away from our families, but we had a couple of friends to look up. This time, I absolutely don’t know anyone out in Connecticut–no family or friends to speak of (although I did meet one of my future neighbors on a short trip to our new place a couple of weeks ago). Naturally, I am nervous. I tend to think a lot about place, belonging, and how geography affects my sense of self. I want to make this work. So I am asking those of you who have moved recently or frequently–and anyone else–for advice. What do you do to feel part of new places? How do you settle in and make it your home? Is there a specific geographical place where you feel is your home and is that place where you live now? If not, how do you deal with feeling displaced?

Also, is there anyone out there living in Connecticut who wants to be my friend?

Brooke

I am a children’s librarian. I have 2 kids. I have a professor for a husband. I obsess about writing and about making things.

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18 Responses

  1. amelia says:

    i’ve made five or six big moves as an adult. and the thing i keep coming back to is walking. i make a place my own by getting out on the street and actually walking my new space. it’s how i got to know london. i’d get off a stop early on the tube so i could get to know a neighborhood a bit. i went on walking tours. in charlottesville, i didn’t own a car and there was no underground, so i walked a lot. same in boston, though there’s a great subway there, too. but even still, i’d sometimes take the T to a new neighborhood and then spend the afternoon walking around, getting a good look at things.

    and i just have to say how sad i am that you’re leaving us. but we’ll just have to have visits. sometime when i head back east, i’ll make a detour to your house for a couple of days. it won’t be quite the same, but it’s better than nothing…

  2. D'Arcy says:

    Watch Gilmore Girls, if that doesn’t sell you on Connecticut, I don’t know what will. Also, Mark Twain’s house is there. Also a million and one other cool cool things. And the train to the city isn’t far. I know lots of New Yorkers and now I am SO excited to know someone in Connecticut! Can I PLEASE come visit you this year? Like the fall, like October? I’m not kidding.

  3. D'Arcy says:

    Watch Gilmore Girls, if that doesn’t sell you on Connecticut, I don’t know what will. Also, Mark Twain’s house is there. Also a million and one other cool cool things. And the train to the city isn’t far. I know lots of New Yorkers and now I am SO excited to know someone in Connecticut! Can I PLEASE come visit you this year? Like the fall, like October? I’m not kidding.

  4. D'Arcy says:

    Watch Gilmore Girls, if that doesn’t sell you on Connecticut, I don’t know what will. Also, Mark Twain’s house is there. Also a million and one other cool cool things. And the train to the city isn’t far. I know lots of New Yorkers and now I am SO excited to know someone in Connecticut! Can I PLEASE come visit you this year? Like the fall, like October? I’m not kidding.

  5. D'Arcy says:

    Watch Gilmore Girls, if that doesn’t sell you on Connecticut, I don’t know what will. Also, Mark Twain’s house is there. Also a million and one other cool cool things. And the train to the city isn’t far. I know lots of New Yorkers and now I am SO excited to know someone in Connecticut! Can I PLEASE come visit you this year? Like the fall, like October? I’m not kidding.

  6. Caroline says:

    I’m so sad as well. I loved being able to come over with baby E and invade your space every once in a while. And have an occassional lunch buddy. And have someone to sit next to at church. Wow, this is getting sadder and sadder.

    As for making Connecticut your home, I’d advise you to create community around you immediately. (Easier to say than do.) Start a book group or a potluck group. Invite cool people over to your place for dinner. (You guys are good about stuff like that, I know.) Once you have friends, I’m sure that will make all the difference.

  7. jeans says:

    I’m in central MA, that’s not too far to be my friend until you find some closer by… we live in apple picking country, come pick some and sit on our porch, chucking cores into the woods and swatting mosquitoes. Oops, sorry about the last part, I admit you’ll find your new digs much buggier than your last. Seriously, email me at bnjeans at gmail dot com.

  8. Sarah says:

    I sometimes struggle to bloom where I’m planted. One thing that helped me in a move I struggled with was to play up the tourist bit and embrace the “I’m feeling new” feeling. I bought a guide to my new state (I like the Off The Beaten Path series) and kept myself busy on weekends doing day trips to new places.

  9. esodhiambo says:

    I fear I have moved too often to give useful advise–it is just a way of life for me. I wouldn’t know what to do if I was somewhere for 3 years!

    I think others have offered fine advise. I would add: jump into programs at your local library like storytime (great for meeting other moms), adult book club (generally an interesting mix of literate people), even lectures and film showings. Also, see if you can find local blogs to read–my little city has a wiki group of bloggers that review local restaurants and other services and, of course, read those blogs to find cool stuff to do. Many towns have rec. departments and, if your kids are old enough, those programs (swimming, hiking, crafts, etc) might be a good place to make friends.

    Church-wise: I agree that jumping into Enrichment Interest groups will be an instant help, and you could organize a simple one yourself. Even if it is just a Scrabble night at your house, people will get the clear message that you are looking to integrate. If you go too long without a calling, offer yourself up as a substitute (in fact, offer yourself immediately to whichever auxiliary is your preference).

    Good luck–I am sure you won’t need it.

  10. Brooke says:

    I am totally excited to have visitors, so be sure to email me about details (you can use the email link on my blogger profile.)

    And I’ll be in touch with you, jeans, as well. Thanks for the invitation. And thanks for the ideas, everyone.

    esodhiambo, I can imagine that moving so much keeps the bulk of your possessions down to a reasonable amount.

  11. esodhiambo says:

    Well, let’s put it this way: every time I move I SWEAR next time I am selling everything and starting fresh where I land.

    So far, just a threat, but someday, maybe.

    I am moving again this weekend, and have yet to SAY that, but I have no doubt I will before the weekend is over.

  12. Bjean says:

    This week I moved a mere 3 blocks away to Derek’s place and still felt totally displaced and invasive. My first morning there, after Derek left…I just sat on the couch and cried for a minute. That helped. 🙂

  13. EmilyCC says:

    My cousin teaches dance at your husband’s new school. She’s artistic and great fun (and yes, I’m completely flummoxed that I have a cousin who is a professional dancer because yikes! me, dancing? Not pretty!).

    I think it’ll help that fall will come quickly after your move–there’s nothing better than a New England fall. And, of course, you’ll be back West for the Sophia retreat in the Spring 🙂

  14. Angie says:

    I always give myself two years to feel out of place, lonely, resentful, sad, etc., etc. – all those kinds of emotions. When I feel these things, I remind myself that I won’t feel them in two years. It’s always worked. Just the passage of time will help a lot, especially if you follow the great advice of the other commenters.

  15. G says:

    wish I was in Connecticut… I’d be your friend.
    🙂

    We moved quite a bit when I was a kid and I sort of kept it up as a single adult… however I have found the idea of moving with my husband and child more unsettling, so much more to uproot, so many more things to worry about.

    Wish I had good advice on the subject, but mostly just sending you positive thoughts as you get ready to do this jump.
    You’ll do well.

  16. Kelly Ann says:

    Brooke, Good luck in Connecticut. Sorry I missed responding to this when I was on a trip. My sister has an extensive network in mid-Connecticut (although of the much more conservative type than myself) of which I also made friends on my many visits. If you want anybody’s information, please let me know.

  17. Amy says:

    I’m really, really late coming to this thread, but I’m in Connecticut, and I definitely want to be your friend!

  18. Brooke says:

    Amy, are you going to the Exponent retreat on Sept. 17-19 in New Hampshire? I’m planning on being there and find it’s a fantastic place to meet friends. 🙂

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