Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting Stuck Wherever You Are

I came to a realization yesterday.  I really want to move to upstate New York.

This is an astonishing statement, as I do not like the cold one bit.  In fact, I complain from about November through April now and we live in Virginia.  Why on earth would I want to move north???  That's a valid question and I think it deserves an answer.

We moved to Virginia when I was twelve and my dad got transferred to a new job within the Honeywell corporation.  He had worked there for a number of years and, about every eighteen months, a transfer would come our way and off to another state we would hop.  I was always the new kid at school and trust me, that really sucks most of the time.  The move to Virginia, though, did not suck, because I was being tormented in middle school where we lived in upstate New York (yes, the place I want to move to) and I thought if we moved, I could start over...even make myself over into a different person that people would not want to torment.  For the most part, the move was a success for me school-wise and I enjoyed lots of new friends and little to no teasing once we got here.  Eighteen months after we moved, the inevitable transfer came up and my dad put his foot down.  He wasn't moving us again and he went and found a job that wouldn't make him pull up stakes every year and a half and shuttle his family across the country.

But...

There were things about New York that I remember with fondness and recent trips to visit friends of Justin's have brought those memories back in a very nostalgic way.  We lived on a cul-de-sac and across the street from our house was a little boat marina off of either a lake or a river.  Hard to know which, since upstate NY has so many of both (part of its great charm).  Every winter, we would clear the snow off of the marina and ice skate.  That is where I learned to skate backwards and spin and I spent a lot of time on the ice.  New Yorkers know how to deal with weather, being subjected to it for about eight months of the year, so there were none of the massive school closures and business shut downs that are always happening here in Virginia.

If you've not ever been to upstate New York, it's absolutely beautiful.  There are a million little lakes (hence, the Finger Lakes), rivers, streams, falls.  It's a water lover's paradise.  I can remember one vacation camping at a lake and going canoeing with my dad and brother.  There was this sense of peace and calm on the water, with the mountains (or hills or whatever) rising up around us, greenery everywhere.  Yes, okay, there were also a lot of bugs.  It goes with the water.

Most houses in New York do not have air conditioning (to my knowledge) because they almost never need it.  The temperatures in the summer do not reach the suffocating 100 degrees we experience regularly here in Virginia in August.  Shade is plentiful, lots are full of old trees, wineries are everywhere.  There is shopping close to the communities we were visiting and the shopping was incredible.  I mean, they have Wegman's, for God's sake.  We were in the "flagship store" two weekends ago and spent an hour or so at the tea bar inside, just sitting and chatting and trying different exotic flavors.  That bar was bigger than my entire kitchen.  The cheese aisle had probably 500 different kinds of cheeses.  Come to think of it, it might be hard to do my grocery shopping there - too much sensory overload.  That place is fantastic.

Yes, we have Wegman's in Virginia, but to get to one, we have to drive an hour.  We live in the country, the Shenandoah Valley to be exact.  We moved here five and a half years ago to give the kids more space, a backyard, smaller class sizes, and a single family home.  I don't regret that we did it, but I am finding myself ready to move on.

Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my family who is feeling driven by the need to pick up roots and replant them way north of here.  I have suddenly been overcome (and I know this could be a bipolar manic impulse, so I take it with a grain of salt) with the need to move back to upstate New York.  Justin has made many, many wonderful friends up there.  The two times I have been up, we have been welcomed as if we grew up with these people.   This is something we don't have here in Winchester.  There are no great ties here except for our parents and we don't see them that often.  If we did move, we could visit, stay in a hotel, and actually see them for longer periods of time than just a daily run allows.

Okay, I know, the housing market.  This is the first big reason we can't go anywhere.  We bought this house at the top of the bubble and then, on top of that, took out a home equity loan.  Then the market crashed and we lost every dime we put into it and another $50,000 at least.  We could not sell this house and come up with a down payment for another one.  We'd be lucky if we found a buyer and, if we were so lucky, we would never come out of this with cash.  In fact, we'd probably end up having to pay them.  So, reason number one that we're here for another ten years.

More importantly, the second reason.  I know what it's like to be yanked out of your school and plopped down in the middle of a bunch of kids that are looking at the "new kid" with great suspicion.  I do not want to do that to my children.  They are comfortable, they've been in the Virginia school system for their entire lives, and my oldest son wants to stay in Virginia to finish his degree.  It would be very selfish of me to insist that they pull up stakes because I am restless.

But...

I still find myself wishing we could go.  After a very bad incident with a couple of neighbors a few years ago in which one of them ended up in prison for eight years for threatening to kill the other's entire family and backed it up with a plan and an extremely mortifying employment experience on my part, I want to move.  Far away. To a place where the people are welcoming and the scenery is pretty.  To a place where I don't have to worry about running into someone I worked with at that job when I am out running errands.  Maybe a house on a lake, near all of these wonderful people we have met through Justin's job.  Winchester has no hold on me, regardless of its scenic beauty and its history.  I've seen it and I'm done.  I find it, with a few nice exceptions (you know who you are!), to be a small, petty, nasty little town with no good restaurants and sucky shopping.  Now, I'm just waiting for the kids to graduate and the housing market to come back and then, hopefully with Justin's blessing and agreement, we are so out of here.  Because obviously I can't go anywhere without him.

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