A funny thing happened to me. I woke up this morning and I was in New York City.
This has happened to me many times before — but this time, we’re staying for several months. I feel as if my husband and I have run away from our old lives and are playing house in a new world.
We woke up Monday morning in a house I love, but a place that was feeling less and less like ours. I sat in the backyard, crabby and disoriented because I hadn’t slept well in days, feeling the implacable heat begin to set in. Our new tenant, who’s a professor from Tel Aviv, arrived and we showed her around our house. As we walked around, pointing out the eccentricities of our house, I could see her, her husband and two children living there. I’d thought that it would bother me, but it didn’t. It felt fine.
We’re only the third owners of this house. A few years ago, I met a woman who’s a friend of the (now grown, in fact now middleaged) daughter who grew up here. I told her I had always sensed it was a happy house, and she smiled broadly, telling me what fun they had had here, how much they had laughed. So sue me for being sentimental and new age-y, but I’ve always sensed the echoes of those good times and of ours.
But that was yesterday. Today, we woke up in the middle of this teeming, fast-paced, vibrant city, looking out our second-floor window to a whole new world. Stores, bars, restaurants, people lingering, people pushing, a young woman plopped in the middle of the sidewalk, grooming her dog’s tail, yellow taxis flying past.
I would tell you we’d already been to a dozen museums and galleries already, that we’d dived deep into life here. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. We’re waiting for our boxes to get here, scared to death we’ll miss the arrival of our worldly possessions. My husband has already checked to make sure the buzzer works, and I can tell he’s not going to be normal until he gets his new super-duper computer hooked up and starts on his book.
In fact, he’s the one who’s testy, who isn’t sleeping as well now. After weeks of hysteria, neuroticism, tears and nighttime pacing, I slept like an infant last night — and feel calm and content and amused at his nervousness. Somehow, it just seems fair.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)
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