*Lyrics from Moonbeams by Family Band from their album Grace and Lies. I heard this the other night while enjoying a mini bar-like atmosphere at home entertaining Jeff’s business partner for a casual dinner. He has some great music finds, and we often share in the spoils of his exploration. This song was on his summer mix (which I totally want, despite the fact that Jeff is forced to listen to it daily). Plus, the song (and video) sort of suits this post in its melancholy, romance, and oddness. It IS where I am.
So, ever since we moved back to the city full-time, we’ve been going back and forth up to Massachusetts pretty frequently for various chores: picking up my niece for a week-long visit (a happy chore, but still, a 6 hour trip back and forth); visiting our storage space looking for important documents (that I totally would have brought with us, but a certain someone who shall remain unnamed – uhem, cough <husband>, cough – thought that packing them and storing them at the bottom back of the storage unit was the most efficient solution); showing and selling the car. Basically, we’ve barely spent two weeks in a row in our new place, so finding that day-to-day rhythm has been difficult.
I mean, we’ve lived here before, but not for 8 years (we did that shocking math on a recent picnic in Central Park), so there is both a familiarity with the city, and a newness that makes ordinary things – grocery shopping, laundry, recreation like movies, restaurants, etc. – feel a bit strange. Cities change over time – favorite restaurants fail (or degrade, which is sometimes worse), new retail shops emerge, formerly favorite spots hold good and bad memories – and when you have a daily relationship with these things, you can cope with these minute changes and slowly adjust your expectations of your world. But, when you’ve been out of the loop for nearly a decade, only visiting the select portions of the city that remain constant for you (office, friends’ houses, parks) it turns navigating the city into a kind of surreal exercise, where you almost float along watching yourself barrel down subway stairs that look exactly the same as they always have, but with people, fashions, ages, demographics that are startlingly different. It can be hard to collect your bearings, and not feel as if you’re in a movie, and you don’t know yet what style of film it is (I’m hoping for indie romance, personally).
Anyway, in the past few weeks I’ve tried to pretend as if I was acclimated. I can’t say that my husband’s easy summer schedule (an extreme rarity – probably the most I’ve seen him in the summer for 5 years) has made the transition easier. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE seeing him more, but it is another radical change in our world, even if it won’t last for long.) If anything, his abnormal work life has contributed to my feeling abnormal in my own head, but this is the reality of moving back to a city after nearly a decade in the relative country.
I’m struggling to find my groove, to set up some routines (which on principle I dislike), to create a little path that feels homey and familiar, and get to know this place again. New York City is a big place, but there are pathways that seem to emerge as natural fits. When I first moved here in the late 90s, I was overwhelmed with its hugeness. Now, as a seasoned (a) adult, and (b) city dweller, I can see the areas where I would likely fit in, and it feels like I will be able to find ‘my people’ easier this time around. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.