After a crazy three days of finishing up my last day of work, packing up my stuff, driving, moving in most of my things to the work-provided housing in Falls Church, packing up a suitcase, driving to our current destination, and then moving in again, we are feeling relaxed and rested. We are settled into a hotel here in Winchester while David does some work-related training. The relief of finally being away from the city and in a quiet rural area is indescribable. This morning I awoke to the sound of silence rather than muffled traffic or noisy neighbors, and when I opened the windows I was met with a refreshing breeze rustling the trees and pleasant musical chirping. I know life is already resuming a comfortable pace and am so thankful to finally enjoy these slow moments.
But I am not the only one grateful for the lifestyle change. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, David and I sipped on Margaritas and crunched on chips and guacamole while reflecting on the differences we feel in mood, associating our present dispositions with vacation vibes. Even though David is still working, he says that being in training here is a privilege and pleasure in comparison to the draining work he was doing in NY. For him, for me, for us, this is the best change to pull us back to a doable life where we can focus on being happy, healthy, balanced, in love, and present. Present. Not wishing for or thinking about anything other than the moment at hand. This is a mindset that we haven’t had for a long time and I’m glad we are enjoying it again.
Before I move on from the past, though, I’d like to leave you with my “Miss” and “Miss Not” lists. I’ve been compiling these thoughts for a while now, wondering what I will and will not miss about NY/NJ. A pros and cons so to speak. I meant to post them before leaving, but unfortunately never found the time. These are reflections on the the things that had the biggest impact on me, although not thoroughly exhaustive.
My top ten:
1) BROADWAY. A thousand times over, I could never get enough of all the live musical theater available in NYC – singing, dancing, and drama! By far my favorite thing to do and I will miss all the remarkable talent. Some of my favorites are Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, If/Then, Rock of Ages, and Phantom of the Opera. Nothing beats the thrill of being carried through a storyline by live singing and dancing. Thank you Broadway for bringing so much joy and excitement to my time here!
2) FOOD. But of course this would make the list. I will miss having close access to all the interesting and delicious flavors found in the city: Cuban, Brazilian, Peruvian, Halal, Indian, French, Spanish, and Chinese have been some of the most satisfying meals of my life. This is not to say that these cuisines can’t be found outside of NY and that nothing can take the place of them (Mexican, Thai, and Filipino food were among my top favorites in CA and can satisfy any craving), but we have been able to come by them so easily here. Goodbye to a city that hosts the buffet table for all ethnic varieties, it has been a pleasure for the foodie in me to explore. Oh, and four words for you: Cookies at Levain’s Bakery. Do it.
A monstrous Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie from Levain’s Bakery. Are you drooling? Me too.
3) CENTRAL PARK. A wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle, this experience never gets old and offers a refreshing perspective of the city. No matter the season, biking through the park is relaxing, exciting, and breathtaking. There is no better way to experience the change in seasons of New York City than through the winding paths circling Central Park. Other enjoyable aspects of the city retreat include rowing a boat in the lake, picnicking on a bench or on a blanket in Sheep Meadow, or walking through The Mall and Literary Walk while enjoying artistry and the trees overhead.
4) COWORKERS. When we first moved here, I was floating around doing random part-time jobs to earn income and keep busy. I am baffled every time I think of all the jobs I’ve had in the nine months that we’ve been here. Swim instructor, SAT tutor, public speaking tutor, writing consultant, Composition instructor, substitute teacher (for one day – ha!), Super Bowl shuttle bus assistant for the Broncos, and my final and favorite job: leasing assistant for a luxury rental building. With all the different jobs, I was waiting, in particular, for one thing: connections. Not in the business sense of the word like “networking,” but on a personal level like friendships. I’m grateful for all the opportunities for work that I pursued while here, a little disappointed that some didn’t work out like I hoped, but happy that my personality is such that I kept persevering until I found something that did. My current job has been rewarding and inspiring in the sense that I’ve had the opportunity to meet remarkably funny, kind, and intelligent people with to share forty hours a week. How lucky I feel to make these friends. I am sad that the day is quickly approaching when I will move on and not see them anymore – this is the hard part about foreign service life. They have been the touch of humanity that I needed when I was really looking for a place to belong, a true blessing and I will wholeheartedly miss them.
View from my work in Long Island City.
5) UNIQUE NYC CULTURE. Miss/won’t miss. This makes the list for both reasons, while I can appreciate the elements of NYC that make it one of a kind, I am not a fan of all, nor most for that matter. In fact, considering my list here, I don’t even have ten things about NYC that I will miss, thus the dichotomy presented.
6) NJ TRANSIT. For all the times you left me standing on the street corner in the freezing cold as I begged you to stop while you drove on by wagging your finger at me like this was my punishment for being a bad child. For all the times I was left with “Standing Room Only” and was jolted around while you hit every four-by-four pothole, braked with unexpected urgency, and took turns like we were in a race to the finish line. I hope I never have to experience your inefficiency and unapologetic bad service again. The countless hours and dollars I lost to your overpriced unreliable service are irretrievable and regrettable.
7) SEASONS. Coming from the California desert, I’ve only known sunshine, flash floods, hot and *cool* weather, and snow-capped mountain tops. Not to say that desert rats don’t experience seasons, but… we really don’t. After witnessing every season here on the east coast, my experience with seasons is now completely different and I have a new found respect for them. All I can say is Summer, Fall, and Spring are amazing seasons. Winter can die. Initially I had fun with winter, playing in the snow, ice skating, winter clothes, drinking hot chocolate, making roasts, blankets, Christmas lights, etc. I was told that Winter was “magical.” And it was. For about three and a half weeks. After New Years, it was a nightmare that I endured for four more months. Let me just say that snow birds know what they’re doing.
I don’t miss this. ^
8) NEIGHBORS. To the neighbors two doors down who towed my car when we first moved in and I had to pay $300 to get it back, to the neighbors upstairs who kept me up every Friday/Saturday night with their loud partying, and to our landlord below who always said we were “friends” but when it came down to it, nothing more than business associates: PEACE OUT.
9) SCHEDULES. I know this is a time in my life when certain things just have to wait. Sure, arguably much of our time is spent waiting – waiting for the bus or a coffee break, waiting for true love, waiting for winter to end or for vacation to start, waiting for school to end or careers to start…one individual I know is currently waiting for retirement…he has about thirty years to go still. I know the waiting feels longer when we have more time on our hands and it can make us crazy with impatience. I remember when I was younger, always waiting for the day when I was “grown-up” and could drive and have freedom to make my own decisions without having to defer to someone else first. I thought that life would be so much better and more fun as an adult (which I am happy to say is undoubtedly the truth) so I couldn’t wait to finally get there and “start living.” Thankfully, I’m much more appreciative of the present these days, but I still can’t help the moments when I am waiting… waiting… waiting… for something to happen so life can be easier or more enjoyable. I suppose this is the “grass is greener on the other side” mentality that I couldn’t help but fall into these past nine months. Between all the different part-time jobs and David’s crazy schedule, we never seemed to be in sync – especially most recently. We’ve been just breezing past each other and barely getting the time to sit down and enjoy a meal together. Therefore, I am currently waiting for the day when things settle back down to a normal routine and I can begin exercising and cooking again, and David and I can spend more time shared with one another. It is an aspect of life that I’ve taken for granted in the past – opposite schedules are the worst! I will not miss the long work hours both of us have logged since last July. Here’s to a schedule that doesn’t include waiting for the future.
10) FAMILY TIME. How lucky I am to have such wonderful in-laws. They made our time here on the east coast worth every minute. I won’t ever forget the times I spent enjoying their company either at home over a delicious home-cooked meal or out in the city exploring new neighborhoods together. They gave me a social life when I felt depressed and showed me the ropes at navigating the city when I felt overwhelmed. How wonderful it has been to grow closer. I will always treasure my father-in-law’s delicious gourmet lunches and getting spoiled by my mother-in-law with chocolates and delicious sweets. Food, a love for travel, and an amazing man are the things we have in common and I am forever grateful they have brought us together.
And for the time my mom came to visit, it was a wonderful blessing to share the NY experience with her. Are you still reading my blog, Mom? 🙂