We spent 25 days visiting three cities we used to call home: Chicago, Boston, and New York City. It was a trip taut with culture and reconnection. We packed it in (they’ll be a re-cap blog post) and by “it,” I mean the typical sightseeing stuff, which, of course, isn’t really typical at all. When I lived in each of these cities, I walked the busy streets, fought the traffic, ate in restaurants at any time, day or night, took in the arts… or not. I never had to because it was all there, all the time, at most just a train-ride away. It wasn’t until I moved the center of the world away from the busiest parts of America that I appreciated how lucky I was to be back, standing in front of a Van Gogh, or walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, or pulling on the door of a Cambridge gastro pub at 10:30 on a Tuesday night to find the place humming with activity.
It was a wonderful, eye-opening 25 days, filled with love and laughter with family and friends. The hardest thing about this trip was the very physical realization of how far away we are from the people we love there. The visits were all slightly mellowed by the fact of our imminent departure. I worried that our kids would fight us when it came time to leave. But once again, my daughter, the fiery, challenging child, surprised me. She accepted our return without question. That’s where our life is now. Thora is my barometer. In the way she has adapted to our new life, I sense that it is right.
I am grateful that we could take this trip. But I feel happy to be back in Gizzy. Despite the fact that we came back to a furnished rental, which contains very little of our possessions. Despite the fact that the pool turned green in our absence. Despite the abrupt return to winter’s cool mornings and early nights after the long, warm days of the American Summer.
I wasn’t sure how it would feel to come back. Would Gizzy feel like a po-dunk town with little charm or merit? Would our days feel empty without the world-class line-up of activities: (“Should we go to the MoMA today or The Met? Or Central Park? Or maybe a musical on Broadway?”) Actually, no. Obviously, no one can sustain vacation-level activity. We did more in 10 days in NYC than we probably did our first full year living there. But now that we’ve moved away from the busiest parts of American, I realize how lucky we are that we get to relax, how lucky I am to run along a quiet road, or to get ourselves around town without traffic and congestion. It feels good to unpack and to fit ourselves back into our lives here, not despite but because the pace has slowed. But more than a need to return for fear of running ourselves completely ragged (although we pretty much did that), our return feels right because this time when we arrived in Gizzy, we had friends awaiting us. (Thora’s classmates, one after another, ran up and hugged her!) In addition to the heavy morning clouds, the magnolias that are in full, unabashed color, the citrus trees, and the baby lambs, the faces of our friends here are welcome sights.
We’ve lived in some world-class cities. And I hope that we’ll live in one again down the road. But for the foreseeable future, Gizzy has what we need. And it feels good to be back.