I’ve always been an easterner

I stumbled across this passage the other night (while still reading Crossing to Safety), "I was always a westerner. New England was a rainy interlude." And it struck me that my situation is the opposite: I've always been an easterner. San Francisco was a foggy interlude. That is, I've always known I would leave California, from the moment I arrived. It's never felt like home to me, but rather some place temporary. More of a "Not New England" than an actual place of its own. California's been a cross-cultural exchange, a (5 1/2) year(s) abroad, an experiment, and the fulfillment of a childhood dream to live near the beach with palm trees and surfers.

Though I am captivated by the landscape and the idea of the American West, and by the concept of westerness, I'm eastern to the core. Even if I stayed here the rest of my life, I'm not sure California would ever really feel like my home nor would Californians ever feel like my people. And I'll never know.

In one month, I'm saying good-bye to San Francisco and heading back to the east coast. First I will spend a month in Paris and then I will be settling in New York City. No, I've never lived in New York City. No, I'm not moving to Brooklyn, lovely and cheap(er) though it may be. And yes, I'm out-of-my-mind ecstatic about the move, about being closer to my family in New England, about having seasons (hot summer! cold winter! real fall! and spring.), about learning a new city and new friends, and about starting a great new chunk of my life and sharing it with someone I love.

20 thoughts on “I’ve always been an easterner

  1. I’ll miss y’all out here, but I wish you the best of luck in your new adventure … and I’m damn jealous that you’ll get *real* seasons!

  2. Well I’ll be up there in 2 years!!! Maybe you, Kottke and I could have a drinkiw somewhere. Good luck and I’m serverely jealous.

  3. Glad to have you in the neighborhood soon! Once you’ve settled down, you’ll have to let us throw you a welcome-to-NYC party ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. p.s. The water here (the Hudson River at least) is around 68-72 degrees, depending on the season. A wetsuit would be…nice to have ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. i keep reading your post over and over. as someone who’s trying to make some changes, it’s inspiring to see someone do so sucessfully. congratulations!

  6. It’s interesting how some places just never seem like home no matter how long you live there. I guess it’s because where you grew up always holds some emotional attachment becuase you see yourself at a completely different stage of development there – maybe you see these places as where you became yourself. Therefore, any place other than that where you became yourself never seems like the place you should be.

  7. And as long as I live in the midwest, I’ll still feel like a New Yorker. Good luck, and be sure to check out Marino’s on 83rd and York (my favorite Italian restaurant) for amazing food at a great price.

  8. Meg,
    Funny you should talk about being an esterner to the core. I recently wrote about that… there’s something to the N.E. area that, if raised there, is knitted into your soul. Congratulations on your big move. It sounds like it will be a wonderful thing for you.

  9. Wow, congratulations — Though I’ve never advocated moving to the east coast I think New York is just one of the few places even I wouldn’t mind living in. There’s so much to absorb–the “culture” characteristic to NYC, the people, and just being in one of the world’s largest economic centers; gotta love that. Much good luck to you and Kottke for the future. I hope you guys have a lot of fun.
    Oh, and if you ever want to take a trip to Washington D.C. I’d be glad to take the both of you around ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. How strange: I never grew up in the east, but I get homesick for NYC all the time and count the days when I can go back to Manhattan: to windowshop, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, get in some great jazz, and a help myself to a piping hot knish (with mustard, please!) from a vendor.
    Ah! Jealousy! (And best wishes.)

  11. Yay! Another ex-Californian! There cannot be too many. ๐Ÿ™‚
    When you feel like coming up to Maine, let me know.
    PS, One: “there’s something to the N.E. area that, if raised there, is knitted into your soul.”
    Absolutely. Once a New Englander, always a New Englander, even though you may leave. Funny thing is, you don’t realize it until you do leave.

  12. where exactly are these palm trees and beaches in s.f.? :’)
    hope you enjoy ny. i moved out here (to the bay area) after spending my first 21 years in and around ny, thinking i’d probably be moving back after a few years – that was almost 17 years ago.
    so, it’s the left coast’s loss. but on the other hand, we just gained leslie harpold!

  13. We are now approaching critical mass, again. Let’s see what this particular concentration of these particular people in this particular place at this particular time will result in.
    Welcome to New York City. You’ll soon have a closet full of clothes which smell like cigarette smoke, just like the rest of us.

  14. Shoot! Another person who is beating me out of the chicken coop!
    I know _exactly_ what you mean. I am another bay area transplant from the east (DC metro in my case). It’s weird though, I caught myself calling this place home once, late this spring while I was driving back here from yet-another-family-trauma, and I actually meant it at the time. And I meant it for a month or two, at least. But autumn is upon us, and… well, it isn’t here again. I always get antsiest this time of year.
    So give me another year or so, and I’ll probably be out in NYC too. It’s been a dream of mine forever, and this place is indeed wearing thin.
    Maybe you can give me pointers on where I can best get over the SF-blues (and get decent veggies!). I’ll keep an eye out for it. =)
    But most of all, best of luck on your move. It’s neither an easy thing to decide nor to do, but you’ve succeeded at it once, and it sounds like it’s the right thing for you and the right time for it. Bye-bye!

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