Although I did grow up in New England, I’ve been a Midwestern girl since the beginning of my college days. I love the Midwest. Forests, lakes, beaches, cornfields – space. So. Much. Space.
Brooklyn is nothing like the Midwest. Sometimes it feels like a foreign country.
I knew I was starting a new life, but I hadn’t realized how many things would change. Moving into a tiny furnished apartment was convenient at first, but just over a month in, I still feel like I’m pretty much living out of a suitcase. I obviously don’t need the clothes that ended up in storage, but I miss having more to choose from. Tho, that said, having more clothes would mean more laundry – which matters a bit more when you don’t have an in-home laundry option.
Laundry in Brooklyn, at least for me, is often an adventure. Today I am writing from the nicer laundromat. It’s four blocks away and a little more expensive than the smaller laundromat (which is only two blocks away), but this one has air conditioning, television, free wifi, and places to sit – unlike the other one, where I pretty much stood around awkwardly reading a book on my Kindle and got yelled at in what I think was Chinese for being in the way. Both laundromats have a “drop-off” option, but I’m just not sure how I feel about someone I don’t know doing my laundry. Besides, even if I did “drop off” my laundry, I’d still have to schlep two bags of laundry several blocks (which is quite a workout in ninety degree heat), so I figure, as long as I’m here anyway, I might as well do my own laundry, and at least that way, if anything shrinks or ends up pink, it will be my own fault.
Grocery shopping has also been an adjustment. I have two choices in local markets – a really nice (and very expensive) organic food market, and the other one – where the fruit I bought last week was moldy the next day. So there’s that. I also have a refrigerator about 3 feet tall with no real freezer space – so gone are the days of making a lot of meals on the weekend and eating leftovers all week. I can make one small meal on the weekend (on a two-burner portable electric stove that takes up the entire counter) and get about 2 meals of leftovers into the refrigerator before I run out of space. Eating out can be really expensive, though, too – so I often make multiple trips to the store in a week. Which can get a little time consuming – because pretty much everyone else seems to be doing that, too.
Also, good luck to you in New York if you don’t really eat bread. So far I have found exactly one bagel shop in Brooklyn (about 45 minutes away from my house) with a gluten free bagel (which was, by the way, amazing). On the up side, there is a deli right around the corner from my office that makes excellent (and enormous) salads, so I can often score a fairly nutritious lunch (& leftovers for dinner) for about $8.00, if I don’t feel like packing a lunch or if I haven’t had time to cook or stop by the store in the past 2 days.
And then there is transportation. What they don’t tell you is that “public transportation” actually means walking a long way to get to a place where there are a lot of other people, all of whom are going to try to get on or off the same train or bus at the same time and that likely someone will push you or shove past you to get on or off, even when you’re going the same direction they are. (I kid you not, there are probably a lot of kindergarteners who would be really appalled at the way some grown ups behave on subways.) Also, there are always a lot of people. All the time. Wherever you are. And pedestrian signals seem to be more of a suggestion than anything else – except sometimes when they’re not. So that’s logical.
In the midst of all these changes, I find myself grateful for the little things that haven’t changed: the handful of friends who still call or send text messages as if I still live across town and not halfway across the country. The freedom to work from home sometimes, even though “home” has a very different feel these days. Familiar stores, like Starbucks, where I can still get a chai tea latte at the beginning (or end) of a really long day.
It’s funny to think than in a year or two, I will look back on these first few months and laugh at how foreign everything felt. Even by the end of the summer, I’ll probably have new routines, more “new” places that have become favorite hangouts, and friends who call who do literally live across town. But for now, I’m just trying to step back and observe it all. To notice more about the why of things, when I feel out of my element, or slightly off-kilter. And to give myself time and space to get used to this new life.
Sometimes I get these crazy ideas that I “should” be/feel one way or another when in truth, my idea of “should” isn’t actually reality at all. I’m grateful for the friends who have reminded me what a brave thing it is that I’ve done; starting over is both a gift and a challenge, and I sure don’t feel very brave most of the time.
But nobody ever said I had to feel brave to do brave things; only I said that. It’s actually all right that I don’t really know “what’s next” – and to be perfectly cliché about it, “the journey is the destination.”
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
But there’s so much to learn along the way.
Simple Felicity is, at its heart, a blog based on the unshakeable belief that happiness really isn't all that complicated. Sometimes finding it can be - but happiness itself is pretty simple, and it's often found in the simplest of things: good food, good books, and good company. So those are the things I write about, along with a few other things that really matter to me, including faith and feminism.
A bit about me: My name is Happy. I have an amazing talent for misplacing my keys, a deep appreciation for whomever looked at the coffee bean and thought, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if I roasted this?", and road trips to Michigan are pretty much my favorite.
Contact me anytime at simplefelicity7 (at) gmail (dot) com! I'd love to hear from you.
"If you focus on what you left behind, then how can you see what lies ahead?" —Chef Gusteau, "Ratatouille" via @momentumdash
"Your dreams don't work unless you do." —@JohnCMaxwell So get to work! ;) Happy Tuesday!
"Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong." —@MissMandyHale
"It's not about where your starting point is, but your end goal and the journey that will get you there." —Unknown via @momentumdash
Brooklyn is nothing like the Midwest. Sometimes it feels like a foreign country. ow.ly/ZJyp30dfHXw