Monday, August 29, 2016

Dispatches from the piles of boxes

"You two are too big for York," a friend told me at our big last-night-out in York earlier this week. 

He was being earnest and kind. But I politely disagreed.

Twelve years ago I might have agreed. At 23, I thought I was too big for York. I thought I'd only stay here long enough to get a line on my resume before moving on to bigger, better prospects. Places where people didn't spend June nights watching cars from a lawn chair pulled up by the side of a highway. Places where people didn't obsess over deep fried dough as dense as bricks or the opportunity to get free anything and everything.

But a funny thing happened on my way to the rest of my life.

I found it right here. In the town I was too big for.

That's the thing about humility – it pounces on you in the best ways. Chances are the second you think you're too big for something, it's exactly the place you need to grow into. 

I've spent 12 years growing into York. It's this cozy, still too big sweatshirt I wear with pride.

There's a long list of firsts here. I moved to York for my first job. Met and married my husband here. Bought my first house here. Got a dog. Had my first little baby and brought her home to my beloved cozy, brick rambler. Had my second little baby and brought her home to my beloved, cozy brick rambler. Sent both of those babies off to their first days of preschool and kindergarten. Acquired a few cats and several fish. Learned how to pick a stall and console a sad pig. Finished my first novel.  

I grew up in Virginia, learning the tools I needed to function as a person in this world. But it was in Pennsylvania I came into myself. Figured out the type of person I wanted to be in this world. 

So when someone asks me how I'm feeling about this move, it's against this backdrop that I respond.

"It's bittersweet."

Bitter because I love this house and this neighborhood and my neighbors. I love my friends here. I love browsing the boutiques downtown and wandering through the wooded paths of all the parks. I love catching up with my favorite checkout lady at the grocery store and running into people I've worked with or played soccer with or sent my kids to tumbling class with. I love how important family (and family recipes) is to the people of York. I love how much they value community. I love the sense of pride and ownership of this place. 

And after this weekend when I had the chance to share another story at YorkFest and then sit among a group of amazing writer/poets who are molding this place into a better place with the power of their words ... yes, a little bitter that I hadn't come across them sooner. Sooner than the week before I'm moving, anyway.

Last week when Brad got home from Virginia, he insisted I go to yoga. So I did. And, appropriately, the class was centered around transitions. Focusing on the transition from one position to the next. The transition from one place to the next place. 

It was there I came around to the idea of moving. Finally. After knowing it would probably be in my future for the past three months. I had this thought somewhere between an up dog and a down dog that I am where I need to be. And that at any given point in time, I am where I need to be. Therefore, whether I'm in York or in Herndon, I am ... wait for it ... where I need to be.

That managed to relieve a lot of the anxiety. Though not necessarily save my from random, sometimes unfortunately timed bouts of ugly crying.

Random, like, I'm in the parking lot at the east-side Target and ugly crying because ... why? It's probably the last time I"ll shop at the east-side Target? Who knows.

And unfortunate, like, when I'm supposed to share an essay in front of a group of strangers and can't keep it together and require the heckling of various friends in the audience to pull myself together.

Clearly, I've been focusing on the bitter side, too much. Moving day will be here soon, so it's time to shift focus. Finally.

The sweet? Well, my family. As in three sisters and a brother and copious nieces and nephews who will all live within an hour or so of me. And old friends who live there. And maybe new friends. And proximity to the Smithsonian and all the museums I visited as a kid. 

And the chance to share all the lessons I've learned here about family and community and the power of art -- the chance to share York -- with my new neighbors.

I hope I never grow too big for any place I live. I think that might be a sign my heart has become too small. My ego has grown too large. 

See, because no matter where we live -- smallish city in Pennsylvania or largish suburbs of Washington, D.C. -- we're all just people trying to become. 

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