Starting Over

We are settling into our new lives here in the suburbs, or as my father refers to it, the country.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that's not our backyard.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that’s not our backyard.

I’m getting used to driving everywhere, which is putting my former exercise routine in serious jeopardy. I don’t exactly miss pushing Little Guy’s stroller all over Brooklyn with bulging grocery bags dangling on both handles, but it was keeping my butt in check. I have yet to find an adequate replacement workout. I guess I could do something banal like join a gym (yawn), but I’d prefer slipping on my very old sneakers and going for a run.

Ah, the bliss of being alone, running free with music blasting in my ears. If you told my adolescent self that I would voluntarily go running, that I would fantasize about going running, that self would have burst into hysterical laughter and then shuffled away nervously.

Until I figure out where I can jog without getting hit by a car (or a deer), I’ll have to settle for this obstacle course:

Doylestown Castle

Castle Playground, Doylestown PA

Climbing through the maze of this amazing castle playground might be good for dexterity, but not so much for, well, anything else. See those dark green swirly slides? They are ENORMOUS and Little Guy goes down himself. This is a kid who until recently held my hand on the puniest of Brooklyn slides. Then again, he is rapidly approaching three. Eeks!

swinging

So, here we are, in our new home, in a new town, starting over. Bunky began first grade a few weeks ago and she is THRIVING. The school has two recesses (freaking awesome) and a lovely staff. We adore her teacher who is going on maternity leave next month (sniff and OY) and I can only hope the sub is great, too. There will be bumps, most likely, because Bunky really loves her. “Mommy, she never yells!” Which is pretty awesome considering I do. Ha. Fingers crossed the new teacher doesn’t.

Also, we found THE awesomest gluten free bakery just a few towns over. The Happy Mixer in Chalfont, PA is exclusively GF and the treats are super high quality, rivaling even our old NYC favorite, Tu-Lu’s. Wow, right?

cupcake selfie

They even have Cookie Monster and Elmo cupcakes because they are super close to Sesame Place, which is just RAD.

Let the sugar high begin!

Let the sugar high begin!

But despite this positive start, I’ve been having pangs of nostalgia for what I left behind in Brooklyn. The ease of my old routine, the well worn streets I walked along with my kids, the stores we frequented, the dances Bunky would do at intersections, how she would sometimes scoot home from school, flying ahead of me for an entire block while I held my breath (or chased her with the stroller). All the walking we had to do, which I used to sometimes moan and groan about. Yet I’m missing that physical travel out here in car country.

I realize some of these pangs aren’t about missing Brooklyn specifically (though some are), but more about the fear and anxiety that comes with starting over. I try to remind myself of what my mom used to say about me, fondly, proudly. You can make friends anywhere. And I could. I did. Every summer I went to a new camp and made new friends each time. Looking back, I wonder why I changed camp every year, why I seemed to crave starting over.

Perhaps it was because I was always on the hunt for that elusive best friend, the one I read about in Judy Blume books and my other adolescent favorites. I found many dear and wonderful friends over the years, one or two who I dared to call ‘my best friend,’ and one or two who reciprocated, but the dream was never truly fulfilled. Maybe because it couldn’t be, because what I was looking for wasn’t real.

The other day I caught myself day dreaming about finding new friends here, more specifically, the friend. You know, the one whose children are similar age to mine, who can come over and drink coffee and/or wine with me while we watch the kids run around in the backyard. The one who might even have a husband or partner that my husband likes. (That is a bonus, not a prerequisite.) The kind I’ve glimpsed in grown up books and in movies. Then I skidded my brain to a halt. I know where that path can lead.

Instead of rushing into the fray and going on a rampage for new friends, I will take it slow. I will find my own rhythm here, a new rhythm, in time.

bunky walkiingWhen I’m feeling bouts of homesickness and loneliness, I look to my kids and notice how well they are adjusting. How they love love their new house even though it is still filled to the brim with unpacked boxes and a kitchen that is being renovated by my handyman husband. Even though we ate on the floor for the first week and slept on it, too. Even though I have yet to schedule a play date for Bunky or find a music class for Little Guy. Even though their future playroom is currently uninhabitable and most of their toys are encased in cellophane wrapped bins. They wake up in the morning and want to play outside, and we are lucky enough to be able to open the door and let them.

Gift from my dad. Thanks dad!

Donated by my super generous dad. Thanks, dad!

I’m living in a state of disarray, inside my new home and in my heart, which is not my strong suit, but what a learning and growing experience it is.

Postscript: In between unpacking and exploring our new community, I’m working on my novel as well as trying out new gluten free recipes (because of course), so keep an eye out for more on the blog soon! Plus, the possibility of change is on the horizon…

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13 thoughts on “Starting Over

    • I know, city living is a totally different animal! You have to want the crowds and the chaos. For a while, I enjoyed it, but having kids changed that for me. This area is gorgeous – there are farms everywhere, and my son calls one of our most traveled routes, “sheep road” because of the adorable sheep that graze under a big tree in a field. I imagine all this nature will be inspiring for my writing, well, I would like to think so 🙂

  1. Oh, how I hope you find those Judy Blume friends soon! Starting over is so anxiety provoking… and I am a frequent sufferer of pangs of nostalgia, for a variety of things, places, and eras of my life. 🙂 I’ve gotten used to them. I’m so glad you’re settling in and finding all the good stuff in your new community. I hope you find everything you’re looking for! Sending hugs! xo

    • Thanks so much Stephanie! I’m in awe of the wonderful and deep friendships that you speak about on your blog. I think for me, motherhood (and the death of my mom in close proximity) closed me up in a lot of ways, but now I’m more open to finding my tribe, though I won’t hold out on the “perfect” pal anymore.

  2. Dana I had a similar experience leaving the burbs and like you wanted friends. I took my time and now have a nice group of friends, we don’t live in each others pockets but when we catch up its genuine friendship. I am a bit of a loner and love my own company (to write or draw) but making new bonds is important. Just get to know your new surroundings and take your time. It will unfold and already I am in love with your new area. Gluten free shop a huge bonus too.

    • Kath, I take heart in your similar experience! I’m already falling in love with the gorgeous scenic area, all the farms and fields are so beautiful, and I love having space to spread out, for me and my family.

      Hopefully in time I will meet some kindred spirits, but until then I will take things one day at a time. Thanks again for all your wise words!

  3. Dana, This post really resonated with me. 7 years ago my husband and I decided to move to a rural town in the mountains of California (1,700 people) and your writing articulated many of my early feelings. I can still remember my shock at how much time I was spending in a car, and how isolated I felt, even though I thought that I wanted “space.” Over time I’ve found wonderful friends, but it was a slower process than some of the other places I’ve lived. Even with that, I’m embarrassed to admit how often I long for a group of Judy Blume friends too. Perhaps it’s my innate tendency to assume that everyone else is having more fun at the party, or everyone else’s friends are closer, but it’s hard to not second guess. As time has passed my trips to the city remind me of some of the absolutely unique experiences my children are getting: hours of play outdoors where they pretend to be “wild kids” surviving on our 6 acres, climbing granite rocks larger than a minivan with our pack of dairy goats, having shopkeepers know them by name, and having a National Park (Yosemite) in their “backyard.” It doesn’t mean that I never have days where I question the wisdom of our decision, but those days are fewer and fewer.
    Thank you for sharing this transition with all of us. I hope to hear more about your adventures in your new land!

    • Thank you so much for this comment, it makes me feel less alone in my new town loneliness! I am forcing myself to be patient with the friend making process and try not to jump all over the first like-minded people I meet 🙂 the way I used to as a kid, ha.

      How refreshing to hear someone else’s Judy Blume dreams! I think what you wrote is so true, other people do seem like they’re having more fun, that they all have more friends, etc, and maybe some do, but I bet there are plenty more who don’t and wonder about it, like us.

      Love the “wild kids” game and plan on playing that with my kids. Your country mountain home sounds wonderful. I’m glad it has become to feel more and more like home every year. I hope the same for myself.

      Thank you again for commenting!

  4. Great post thankyou. We had a similar experience when we went to live in Tuscany for a year (from Australia!) Making an effort and stepping out of our comfort zone was the best experience we had with our children and we met some amazing friends that helped us and gave us the confidence to know we were exactly where we were meant to be.
    Kraen

    • Thank you so much for your comment! Tuscany sounds fantastic, but yes, what a huge change from Australia. It’s true that moving certainly helps you realize where you fit best. I’m glad you found your comfort zone.

  5. What a lovely post this is! Good luck with the new home, new environment, new neighbors, etc!

    Me & my husband moved from the big city Brussels 3 years ago to a smaller town aka village & we love our new style of living! We are on a waiting list for an allotment, made new friends, have a large garden & are enjoying our new life with lots of walking & biking in the countryside & foraging too!

    I loved this post! xxx 🙂

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