That’s how coming back to New York feels. It was business as usual all day at work in Rockville. After work, Metro back into the District. Then the walk from the Metro to my apartment, from the door to the kitchen and the kitchen to the balcony to watch planes take off into the sunset (and yes, that sounds corny as hell, but I swear that’s what we do every evening).
From apartment to Metro to airport. That’s where the transition begins. Eric, a friend from college had a delayed flight to Chicago, so we met up and entertained each other while wondering when Eric’s 7:35 flight would leave (ended up being around 9). On my almost-empty DCA-ALB flight: a magician, a child who kept claiming to be a Mexican jumping bean and my seatmate, a woman from Las Vegas who had undoubtedly spent a bit of time at the terminal bar during the last layover.
The Albany airport, the baggage claim, waiting for my dad at the curb. The hour-long drive home, figuring out plans for the next few days, secretly praying we don’t crash as my dad swerves back and forth between lanes. (And I quote: “There was nobody else around, so I figured ‘What the hell?’”)
We exit at Saugerties and drive the dark, windy roads to Sawkill. Or Ruby. Or Ulster. Or Kingston. Even after 23 years, still not entirely sure where I live. Technically all of the above?
Home, into the house, hugs from my mother. I’ve only lived in Washington for three months, but for some reason, they now seem longer than the five months I lived in Prague or the 14 months I was in Asia.
Leftovers from Rosh Hashana dinner make their way into my stomach: matzah ball soup, salmon, turkey, quinoa (and we debate how to pronounce it constantly), and to throw some Italian into the mix, zucchini lasagna. Then, migration to the deck. I look up and there are stars. Hundreds. Thousands. Millions. They blanket the sky and I make a comment about how many there are. My mother looks up and tells me the night, with its partial cloudiness, is not a good night for stars. But that’s why I have three more nights here.
I fell into bed, exhausted after a full day of work…followed by travel…followed by lots of turkey. I’m ready to take on this new year with its surprises and lessons and whatever it wants to throw at me. I’m ready for the new apartment. I’m ready for new adventures. But first, I’m going to enjoy a few days at home with my family. I’ve slipped out of my DC world, with its 40-hour workweek, constant overstimulization and full schedule of happy hours and dinners. Now I’m in upstate mode — driving my car around town, making plans to meet at a local brewery for mason jar night and hanging out on the deck. When I’m in one, the other seems like something out of a different life.
When I was getting ready for work Wednesday morning, I stood on the balcony as I brushed my teeth and watched the people below head to work. I thought about how happy I am in Washington, how settled and content I am and how I didn’t think that would ever be a reality. And right now, I’m just as happy to be in Kingston, though I know that’s a short-lived feeling. The six months I lived here when I moved back from Korea were good, but after awhile I stopped being happy. The move to Washington was good and healthy because it gave me the best of both worlds. My goal for the next year is to learn how to combine the two so that it feels less like slipping between two worlds and more like joining them together. With that, I wish you a shanah tovah, a happy new year, and head to synagogue.