Sunday, March 10, 2013

But It's Just Like This

Touching the Atlantic for the first time since 2010.
Shaken Mama and I met on the first day of class in the graduate writing program at Emerson College in Boston. It was there, in John Skoyles' poetry workshop, that we received this advice: "When you are absolutely, positively sure of something, consider that the opposite might be true."

It's brilliant and brave counsel that I've applied often since then, in writing and in life. Sometimes it turns out that what I am sure of is the case ... and sometimes, amazingly, I realize that I have previously unrecognized feelings about an issue, a situation, a person or myself.

Shaken Mama and I developed our own, everyday application of this philosophical tenet. In any given vexing situation, one of us would cry, "I thought it was different!" To which the other would respond (in a deadpan), "But it's just like this."

And yes, I have a point.

Which is: Growing up in Delaware, I itched to leave. One thing I was absolutely sure of was that I would not be sticking around the First State.

And when I was 25, I left. I moved to Wilmington, N.C., for a reporting job at the Star News. The following year, I saddled up the truck and two cats and headed to Boston, sight unseen. Two years later, I followed my then-fiance out to San Francisco, where I stayed, even after we divorced, for 16-1/2 years.

I adored it. I worked for most of that time at The San Francisco Chronicle. I even bought a home.

And then one day, I woke up and considered that the opposite might be true.

I missed Delaware. I missed my sister and my brother and my old friends. I missed meeting someone and realizing we'd both gone to Holy Angels, or Padua Academy, or that  we'd both grown up in Binns.

Literally, I cannot have a conversation with anyone in Delaware in which we cannot find some connection. It trumps the Kevin Bacon game -- it's like three degrees of separation. At most.

Not surprising when you consider that the whole state is roughly the population of the city of San Francisco.

Burying the lead, I'll tell you what happened next. I rented out my condo. I quit my job. I put all of my stuff in a POD to be shipped east. My (saint of a) sister flew out to San Francisco, and we drove back to Delaware (California/Nevada/Utah/Colorado/Kansas/Missouri/Illinois/Indiana//Ohio/Pennsylvania/West Virgnia/Maryland) with two cats and a mercurial Pekingese dog.

As luck would have it, I landed the assistant city editor job at The News Journal I'd applied for, and rented an incredible three-bedroom house (for half my mortgage) that's quiet, in a great old neighborhood, with a huge yard.

It turned out the opposite was true.

And, it's just like this.

1 comment:

Erica Kain said...

But I thought it was DIFFERENT!?