I’m probably better off posting pictures of my trash than discussing the psychological vagaries of relocating, but I am short on photos and long on thoughts, so here goes.
Though I’d wanted to leave Houston for a long time, I was ambivalent when my husband first told me he’d gotten the handshake for a transfer to Pittsburgh. I realized over the next day or two that my anxiety about moving had a lot to do with my transition from Philly to Houston 3.5 years earlier, which was excruciating. I’d spent all of my 24 years in Philly – growing up, earning my B.A., making my way as a young professional. My large family, my beloved circle of friends, my neighborhood and the happily car-less and frugal lifestyle it enabled – these things were woven into my identity. Leaving all that behind made me feel not just frayed at the edges but threadbare throughout.
I know this is part of why people leave their hometowns to go to college, so they can learn who they really are outside the environment that informed who they think they are. It is with slight embarrassment that I expose this possibly stunted aspect of my personal development: At 25, I was going through what many people go through at 18. Perhaps feeling adolescent again after painstakingly climbing into adulthood made it that much harder, though the problems I had upon arrival in Houston were not a college freshman’s problems. I won’t go into the long months of unemployment (made more difficult by having been employed continuously for almost 10 years, yet another rent in the fabric of my self-image), the tight budget and complete lack of humor about it, the strained relationship, the doubt that throbbed and poisoned like an abscess. Within a year these things were more or less straightened out and healed over. Within two, I felt almost at home in Houston. Last year, 2010, was nothing short of amazing, and I’m forced to admit that my time in Houston improved me in many ways.
I guess I didn’t post it because it’s an oversimplification. Strange that I started a blog about relocating; I find the places I’ve lived to be almost impossible to write about. A place isn’t a thing separate from the people who live there, or from the lifestyle it encourages or discourages, or from the everyday choices one makes about where to live, work, eat, shop. Sure, a place has limits – geographic and otherwise – but those limits are not static, and those limits are rarely as narrow as the personal limitations they are often mistaken for.
Next time: pictures.