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A Year And A Lifetime

We just passed our one-year anniversary of
moving to Texas, and I can’t figure out if the year’s
flown by or stretched out interminably.

In some ways I feel as if I’ve been here forever; at the same
time, I still feel startling pangs of homesickness for New York.
We’re certainly settled in here, roots firmly planted in the
ground, but in quiet moments my heart still wings eastward towards
the Big Apple. And knowing we’re in the right place for this
season of our family life doesn’t make the aches any easier
to bear.

But a whole year has passed, and while it
may feel like a stretch of time to me, for my girls it’s an
eternity. While looking at pictures of herself on the computer the
other day, Maddie saw photos of our old church in New York and
didn’t recognize it. I saw her concentrating on a picture of
her with one of our close friends from the city – a woman
Maddie’d had a small crush on – and give up placing who
she was. I could tell it bothered Maddie, but that for her, that
photo had been taken a lifetime ago.

And speaking of lifetimes, Cora’s already lived in Texas
longer than she lived in New York, which I still have trouble
believing. She’ll be a Texas girl through and through, with
no memories or even any formative incidents from New York to shape
her. And while I know Maddie’s been touched by New York, and
it’s a part of her, when she’s just a little bit older
she’ll lose all memories of it as well, with only pictures to
remind her of those days.

Some things Maddie still clings to from her old life – her
friend Naomi, for one. She just recently spoke with Naomi on the
phone, and apparently Naomi’s been missing her friend as
well, for I heard Maddie say urgently into the phone, “Naomi,
listen. I AM coming to visit you, I promise. I don’t know
when, but I WILL get there. I promise you, ok?” Maddie still
asks when we’re going back to New York to visit, and I know
it’s mostly because of missed friendships. When she speaks of
the city, she’ll talk about the dinosaur museum or the
paintings museum or her local park or her church, but it’s
mostly her friends.

Which is how I feel as well, I have to admit. I’ve certainly
formed some great friendships here, but they haven’t filled
the void of girlfriends left behind. And I’ve (mostly) gotten
over the culture shock, and look back over the year and see how
I’ve changed: I no longer rail quite so vocally about people
driving everywhere, and keep my recycling opinions (mostly) to
myself. Texas has softened me, allowed me to slow down and take a
kinder, gentler pace. Though I have to confess that I’m still
astonished at how nice everyone is to me here; just yesterday I
called the city to report that I hadn’t gotten a water bill
this month, making our bill a good two weeks past due.
“That’s all right, hon, just send it in now and
it’ll be fine,” the woman said, which definitely never
would have come out of the mouth of any New York municipal

So even though I miss my lovely New York, I have to celebrate our
new life here in Texas. We go for walks in the dark after dinner
and I don’t worry about our safety when a car slows down near
us; it’s always a neighbor stopping to say hi on their way
home. Our girls have a huge back yard to play in, which they gobble
up voraciously, never tiring of the outdoors. We’ve got
several friends within a few-block radius, all of whom will be
going to elementary school and beyond with Maddie. Our girls
aren’t breathing New York’s post-9/11 air, and
I’ve learned to stop tensing every time I see an airplane fly
overhead. Our house wasn’t built in the Great Depression and
doesn’t have lead paint buried in its walls.

But most important, we’re near almost all our relatives, and
get to wallow in family relationships once again. Our
family’s embraced us with open arms and we’re happy to
give Maddie and Cora their fill of time with aunts and uncles and
grandparents and the dozen cousins running around. I think about
our life exactly one year ago, and how the day after we flew in,
our entire family descended upon the empty house to help us paint,
clean, and get ready for the moving van, and how I watched Maddie
play giddily with her cousins and finally started to feel in my
bones that this move was a good thing.

New York, we miss ye mightily. Texas, thanks for welcoming us with
open arms. Here’s to another great year here.


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