BH and I have been talking about moving away from Nameless East Coast City (NECC). Not right away and not for sure and not sure where to, but in the back of our minds and sometimes at the front of them, we consider the options. And while sometimes I am overjoyed by the prospects Way Out Yonder (WOY), I am simultaneously overwhelmed by the thought of leaving.
NECC is home for us. Really and truly. The first several years of our marriage we were living in places we knew were temporary–the defined schedule of academics gave us set points at which to move on. And we lived and invested in those places in temporary ways. Our move to NECC was the first point that we had the option of choosing, of having some say in the matter. And we chose NECC because we thought we might like to stay permanently. And thus, we’ve lived here like we might always live here–we’ve put down roots and I’m wondering at what point the roots preclude transplantation.
BH and I have started taking long, late-night drives lately. While driving around, just for fun, irritates my environmental consciousness, there is a feeling that is unparalleled by the emotions that come from turning up the radio, opening up the sunroof and just cruising down the street, no destination, no agenda, no plan. The world opens up differently when there isn’t a three block back up at poorly timed lights and intersections aren’t barricaded by other motorists trying to make the yellowish/orangish light on the street perpendicular to yours. With no traffic to contend with, we can see a dozen or more historic sites within five minutes of leaving our home, sites that other people travel to see and there they are, practically in our backyard. The quiet and calm of the late night makes the buildings more majestic, their historic significance more real, their beauty more vivid.
And with spring finally here, we’ve been taking walks as well (we try not to ravage the earth every night), meandering down empty sidewalks, the house alongside now dark and still. A route that during day hours might bring us in contact with hundreds of other people is a very different experience at night, when we cross paths with fewer than ten other late night souls. It allows us to see other things, things missed if you have to watch out not to bump the people coming your way. There’s the interplay of the streetlight light with the blossoming trees, the spookiness of still empty branches backlight by the orange ambient light, the emptiness of the still commercial corridor.
It’s those moments, the late night wanderings through our neighborhood and beyond, that make me think we’re crazy for thinking of leaving. NECC is where we live but it’s more than that as well. It’s a representation of dreams and expectations and disappointments. It’s plans for ourselves and our community. It’s growing and changing and thriving and morphing and getting somewhere and suddenly realizing you’re not sure how you got there, but you’re glad that you came.
I write this now, with the scenes and emotions still fresh, so that I can remember it later–when our neighborhood watering hole is overrun by the nearly ubiquitous douchebags that NECC can be known for, when my drive home from work is extended by an extra thirty minutes thanks to clogged streets, when protesters come to town and leave their hateful signs along the sidewalk, assuming someone else will pick them up. Because wherever we end up, I want to choose it because it’s where we want to go, not because we’re trying to escape where we are. So here is the reminder I need, the call to remember, the celebration of seeing the world around through happy, contented eyes.