Perspective, Hard Won.

Public domain image from WikiCommons. Tulane cheerleaders, 2008.
Tulane cheerleaders, 2008. Image in the public domain.

The toughest thing about being in a new place is the lack of perspective.

I live in New York City and I have no perspective on this experience yet and won’t have it for some time, because that’s how perspective works.

I look back on my twelve-plus years in Chicago, I see eras. There were the First Years, the rough ones, with their questionable choices and misbehaviors (all with the best of intentions, of course.) Those years contained the Poetry Years, thank goodness, or I might not’ve survived at all. That era, with all its earnest youthful disregard gave way to a better time: the Affianced Years. That was pleasant. I had found someone I cared for deeply and was enough of an adult to pair up in a real way. My foolish choices were slashed down to (almost) nil. And I wasn’t a waitress anymore. Right before the Affianced Years began, I began to be able to make my living as a full-time writer-performer and I clung desperately to that fact. The proclamation was (and has remained) a cornerstone of my entire identity. It probably matters too much, but for me, I can’t do it any other way.

The Marriage Years immediately followed the Affianced ones (they’ll do that) and they overlapped entirely with the era known as When I Was Sick. (I was diagnosed less than a month after I walked down the aisle; surgery was a month later — to the day? — of my wedding.) But inside those years were the Best Theater Years I ever had, making art with the Neo-Futurists.

And then The Divorce. And then Downtown Me. And then I left.

Anyway, all this is to paint — mostly for myself, I have to admit — the picture of what happened back in Illinois. Broad strokes, yes, but it’s chronologically correct.

I’m in the First Years again.

And it’s great here, and I’m not the twenty-one-year-old girl (good grief!) that I was when I had my first round of First Years, but I know full well that I have a whole lot of perspective to make. I will get lost a dozen times. I will be mistaken about the character of this or that person. I will embarrass myself. I will not find my favorite shops for at least 6-12 months. There’s no way I can learn the shortcuts: I don’t even know the longcuts.

I’m not exactly bummed, but tonight, I know too much about not knowing anything at all.

8 Responses

  1. Melissa
    | Reply

    Mary, I totally relate. I moved to NC two months ago after having lived in the Midwest for 24 yrs in a couple of different states. This move leaves me truly with an empty nest and a yearling to find my favorite shops as well. It feels a bit daunting at times but the excitement is equally intriguing. Hopefully a year from now we’ll both have gained our perspective on life in our new cities. ~Mj

  2. Taylor
    | Reply

    The Dickensians would say familiarity breeds contempt….

  3. Elaine
    | Reply

    I will be doing this next year and I am anxious about it. Not a long distance move, but a city to country move. I will be fine and I am a little excited by it. Who knows what will happen. Thank you for your perspective. It definitely spoke to me this morning. Find a good shop today!

  4. michele d'amore
    | Reply

    hi mary,
    my name is michele d’amore and i am a textile designer living in n.y.c. for many years now. don’t know if you remember , but we met very briefly at quilt market in benartex’s booth.
    i did not know then that you were moving to n.y.c.
    since we have something in common, i would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to get together, have a drink, talk about living in the city and hear more about what you are doing etc. etc.
    look forward to hearing from you. i would love to show you “my” new york.
    michele d’amore

  5. Shirley Fass
    | Reply

    Any change, no matter how welcoming can be overwhelming. Some days you feel like you really need the familiar and wonder if you made a big mistake. But that will pass and you will know your gut feeling about making a change was correct and you will see it more as an adventure than as a burden. Hang in their kiddo–you are going to be ok!

  6. Rukmini
    | Reply

    Yes to everything in this post! I moved from India to the US six years ago and there are still moments when I “know too much about not knowing anything at all.” It’s difficult to lack context about things you’re “supposed to know,” but, as you say, that isn’t a reason to get all down and depressed.
    Thanks for your blog, Mary. You unfailingly find a way to make me smile!

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