My iPhone says it’s 5:58pm. It’s Friday, November, 18, 2011. I stand on the subway platform under Rockefeller Center waiting for the D train to take me to Harlem, taking me “home” to a friend’s house where my wife waits. The same wife that I met in San Francisco more than fifteen years ago, and married more then ten years ago. The same wife that I moved to Washington, DC with in 2001, and then to NYC with just four years later. I stand on this platform, thinking as I am, because I just finished my last day of work at Time, Inc, after 4-and-a-half years, so we can pick it all up and do it all again.
We’re headed to Germany this time. Yeah, that Germany, over there, across the Atlantic, in the middle of Europe, where they prefer to speak and read and write in German, not English. The same German language for which I got a solid D when I took it in seventh grade. Nearly 30 years ago. Good God…
Leaving a place is always hard, but this move is a lot different than the others for some reason. When I left Pennsylvania, just days after the end of seventh grade, I had no real friends, all of my worldly possessions (read: comic books, Matchboxes, and Star Wars figures) were going with me, and there was this idea that I might be able to re-invent myself, to become whatever I wished I was: I could change what I didn’t like, try to lose some weight (I was a fat kid), try to become cool, and no one there would already “know me” as anything but that. This move was almost exciting.
And leaving Hawaii, we were heading to San Francisco, as a band, soon, we were sure, to be the next Van Halen! Or Metallica, depending on which band member you asked… We were a collective group with a common goal, embarking to unknown lands in search of riches and fame. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?
Leaving San Francisco is when things started to get difficult… For one thing, I was married (thankfully she was coming with). But we had both lived there for a while, so we knew people and had real friends. Adult friends. The kind of friends you actually think you might, and want to, know for a while. But even though we were moving clear across the continent, I think we pictured ourselves returning fairly soon.
Conversely, aside from a few people, leaving DC was relatively easy because we had only been there four years, and we were just moving “up the coast”. And we were moving to New… York… City! Not only would we be “living the life”, but surely everyone we’d ever known would soon be coming to visit us there. We were so sure of this, in fact, that we even half-jokingly talked about creating an online reservation system, so all of our friends and family could check and book their own visits!
And now there’s this move, which… just hurts. We’ve been here six-and-a-half years, have made an unexpected number of really great friends, both liked our jobs, and are moving halfway around the world. And while we’ll soon be in the middle of Europe, and we already have collected a long list of assurances that people will be coming to visit us there (or at least meet us somewhere over there), no offense to anyone that made such a promise, but we’ve heard that before… The reservation system for NYC never came to be, and the “flood” of visitors was more of a trickle. And now there’s an ocean to add to the distance…
So, we’re slowly getting ready, the apartment’s been vacated, the belongings are en route, the final farewells have been said, and the town car arrives tomorrow at 1pm to take us (and our cat) to JFK for our 4:25pm flight. We’re a little freaked out, but also excited, and sad. Those are a lot of varying emotions to have swirling through our heads like dust inside a Dyson vacuum, but it’s where we are, and we put ourselves there. And surely it will awesome. Surely we will survive, maybe even thrive.
I’ll try to keep you all posted, there is surely much, much more to come…
Prost, und auf wiedersehen!