Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beating Homesickness

I've come to think of relocation like this: you spend the first three months trying to unpack, settle in, familiarize yourself with the new town, meet people, and adjust to your surroundings. Then, around the 3 and 1/2 month mark, it starts to sink in that, wow, this really is your new home. You are not going back. For better or worse.

For me, this crazy realization hit somewhere around the beginning of October. We'd been here several months and we getting into the swing of things. We had a very manageable routine and we were starting to be invited to different outings by our new friends. I remember joking to Rob about the fact that I could no longer slum it to Walmart (you know, unshowered, pj pants, greasy hair, no makeup) anymore because I was bound to run into someone I knew! We were feeling on top of our game and very confident that we'd made the right decision to move.

I'm not exactly sure what triggered my feelings of homesickness earlier this month. It could have been the fact that the holidays were approaching and we knew we would not be spending time with family. It could have been the fact that David started walking and we had to post a video online (rather than show him off in person) so that our friends and family back home could share in our joy. Or it could have been a simple question posed by a friend: Chanel, what do you miss most about New Jersey?

It really got me thinking. I'd spent months listing all of the reasons why I was thrilled to be far away from that crowed, congested, and polluted state. In fact, the only aspect of the move that saddened me was that my family was now 1,000 miles away...right? Could there really be more that I miss about New Jersey???

Someone once told me that the best way to conquer my fear (or any other emotion, really), was to face it head-on. This tactic had worked well in the past so I had no reason to doubt its effectiveness in my current situation. Sure enough, once I had written out all of the tidbits of New Jersey that I was missing, I began to feel better. I came to terms with the fact that those things would still be available to me, just not as often. They would truly become luxuries whenever I visited New Jersey. And, as I was discovering more and more, Kentucky has its own pearls and gems that I never experienced in New Jersey. Some are better, some are worse, and some are just...different. Comparing the two states and what they have to offer helped me to realize that my exposure to both is what will make me a more well-rounded person able to better relate to a wider variety of people. Not so bad, right? :)

So here is my list:

What I Miss About New Jersey...

-The mall! Call me crazy, but when you're used to a mall 20 minutes in any direction, being without one feels, well, pretty damn strange.

-The zoo! My kids LOVED the zoo. The closest one is 2 hours away, and I've heard it's not even that good. The next closest one is nearly 4 hours away. Now we're talking a weekend trip. Just for the zoo...

-Diners! Oh, a true Jersey classic! Where can I go to eat at 2 AM that's not Taco Bell or Wendy's? Here? Nowhere. I miss diners, especially the jukeboxes and bar stools that come with them.

-Smoke-free establishments! The smell of cigarettes lingers in my hair all day long. Ugh! Here the hosts ask you, "Smoking or non-smoking?" when you walk through the door. Everybody knows that the smoke doesn't stay in the smoking section. It inevitably floats over to your table and into your food. Worse yet, into your baby's mouth. Yuck. I never appreciated smoke-free dining until now!

-More than one Catholic church in a county! We lucked out, because we absolutely love our parish, but what if we did not? Where would we go? There are 100 Baptist churches in town but only one Catholic church. I am not used to being outnumbered like this.

-Access to public transportation! We used to think nothing of hopping on NJ Transit and arriving in NYC 45 minutes later. Here, if you don't own a car (or realistically, a pickup truck), you aren't going anywhere. At least not anytime soon.

-The desire for higher education! Not that people here do not go to college; it's just that fewer do than in New Jersey. College isn't the end-all-be-all, but it certainly helps to get your foot in the door most of the time. And truthfully, college was one of the best times of my life. :)

-An abundance of colleges/universities! Nothing like having options, especially since I'd like to work in a college setting once I'm done raising my family. Hmmm...we live near one university but the next closest one is, well, pretty far. Hope this one will be hiring when the time comes!

-The club scene! Okay, Rob and I were never "clubbers", but we enjoyed a night out dancing every once in a while. And we liked that it wasn't far away! We could hop from one to the next all night long if we so desired. We've already figured out that there are no clubs here and the closest thing to a club ( s-t-r-e-t-c-h....) is an hour away. And from what we've been told, you really have to go to St. Louis to get the decent ones. Whew. Can't do that in one night.

-Not having to pump my own gas! Yes, call me crazy, but I don't mind letting someone else do it. When it's hot, cold, or when you'd just rather not get out of the car, it's great to hand it over to the attendant, who does a wonderful job. I'm managing, but not enjoying it at all.

-The mountains! Apparently there are mountains here, about 7 or so hours away. My parents live in the mountains and boy do I miss the scenery, especially this time of year. The only place you can get better foliage is in New England. And of course I miss my parents. But that goes without saying.

-Atlantic City! What a thrill AC was. We never did that well, but we certainly enjoyed our time getting sucked into the abyss. Nothing compares to Atlantic City when it comes to gambling. Ok, Vegas. Anyone want to fund my trip there so I can do a proper comparison???

So has facing my homesickness head-on worked? Well, it's certainly helped. I will keep this list around to review periodically whenever the need arises. More importantly, I will continue to add to my "Perks of Southern Living" list. There is, after all, much appeal in this area. :)

Peace out, y'all.

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