You blink and your baby is a toddler, then a child, then a tween, and suddenly a teenager.
On the one hand it's reassuring, I guess. It feels good to know that we share a common human experience. "Where did the time go?" is the lament heard 'round the world.
On the other hand ...
As my now seventeen-year old (all right, I'll say it ... where did the time go?) needs me less and less, I've found myself looking at my own life and wondering the same thing. For example, I started dating my husband when I was twenty-five, more than half my life ago. I've been out of school considerably longer than I was in school. In fact, my thirty-fifth high school reunion is coming up.
And, I've now lived in this sleepy New England town twenty-four years — that's longer than I've lived anywhere. Longer than I lived in New York or Boston.
I guess I live here now.
It's a sobering thought because my life, my home, my career, this town are not what I had in mind back when I was a teenager planning my extraordinary life. Don't get me wrong, I'm blessed in many ways. I make a fairly good living doing something that's appreciated (and that I often enjoy). I have a lovely family, good friends. It's just not what I expected.
I'm a native New Yorker and will always think of that wondrous city of cities as my hometown. Inherent in that is a heightened sense of vitality, excitement and constant change. And potential. That feeling of potential is what I think I miss most.
The town I live in now places tremendous value on history. Despite a good number of multimillionaires in multimillion dollar mansions on the water, the locals who are most respected are the ones whose families arrived many — many, like two hundred and fifty — years ago. Even though I know I'll forever be a newcomer here no matter how long I stay, I do appreciate the town's collective pride in its heritage.
On the other hand, people become New Yorkers in ... well ... a New York minute. I love that about the city. About my city. Immigration reform aside, the promise of Lady Liberty is still very much alive in NYC. And I miss it. Almost as much as I miss the art, and the theatre, and the restaurants, and, and, and ...
Where I live now has been a great place to raise a child — it's small and safe with good schools; it has beaches and bike paths, and it's just half an hour from the stable where my daughter spends most of her time (and much of her love). But, she (and the horse) are off to college in less than two years. I'm starting to wonder where I want to be.
If I returned to New York in my mid-fifties (once again, where did the time go?), could I ever recapture the thrill, the sense of potential? Probably not. Could I ever convince my husband to leave this place he loves so much? Probably not. And if I could, could we ever afford the real estate?
I'll daydream about it, but chances are I'll stay here. It may have snuck up on me; it was never my plan.
But, I guess it's home.
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