When I was seven, I moved with my mom and my sister from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio to the Bay Area, California. I was the cool kid in my hometown, a fantastic student (I was the Student of the Day nearly every single day), and I had tons of friends. Friends that I would walk to school with and toilet paper the girls restroom with during Sunday school. The last day of school before we left for summer break, we had picked out our seat assignments for second grade the following school year. I knew I would never sit in the seat that I chose next to my best friend, but I don’t remember feeling sad about it, and feel mostly ambivalence when I think about it. I was devastated over my parent’s divorce and unsure how to feel about moving to California (probably because all my friends were jealous. I was going to be the “California surfer girl”).
When I got to California, everything changed. I went to my first day of school, dressed in probably corduroys and a Care-Bear sweatshirt, and I was alone. I looked different, I acted different, and I didn’t own a pair of Chuck Taylor’s until the fourth grade. The kids all around me all grew up together, they all basically knew each other since preschool, and I was NEW. And so awkward. While that didn’t bode well for me, I did manage to make one friend that I really clicked with until she moved the next year to Colorado. I made some friends after that, but it took me until the end of high school until I regained the confidence that I had when I was a child.
Flash forward to last year when we moved to NYC. I’m a grown *ahem* woman now, but I have to admit I was nervous about meeting other women that I could be friends with. I had flashes of being the outcast, of looking different and acting different and not being accepted. What actually happened was quite the opposite of my fears. I made fast friends with some of the parents of Bubba’s peers at preschool, and I feel so fortunate to have found such a fantastic group of people. I doubt I would have made friends like this without my children to facilitate it… there’s something incredibly bonding about parenthood.
One of the most beautiful and incredible things about New York City is how accepting everyone is of everyone else. This is my perception of the city, thus far anyway. There are always pockets of places where people are clicque-y and judgmental, but in the area that we live in it doesn’t seem that way at all. Moving here gave me a clean slate to start on, a new life, new friends and new identity. I knew no one on the streets of this city, and very very rarely do I see the same person twice. The exact opposite is true of the town that we come from in CA, and that in and of itself is exactly the liberation that my soul needed.
While I couldn’t be happier about the relationships we all have formed out here, I cannot help but be absolutely terrified of moving back to California when Dental School is over. Bubba will be about 6 1/2 years old, and Birdie will be 5. Clearly, I’m more concerned about Bubba. He is so influenced by his friends right now and is forming friendships that I hope will last him a very long time. I just want his “When I Moved to California” story to be slightly different than mine. I’m so glad he will have this experience to build off of though, and it will be a positive transition when we come full circle. Then again, we may just decide to practice here in the city and stay a little while. (Just kidding, mom!)