Or...How I Got to Be in Cackalackie.
A few posts ago, blogger-friend Amanda posted a comment and eloquently asked, "Damn, woman, remind me again why you live there? Other than the fact that you can get diesel, deep-fried religion without leaving the range of your remote control."
And since she is not the first of my more loyal readers to take note of my otherwise surly opinion of my current state of residence and question why it is I live here, I thought I'd offer a brief explanation.
Picture September of 2005. Doug, Emma (then only 1 year old), and I (2 months pregnant with Nicky) were living happily in a stereotypical Italian neighborhood in the northeast Bronx. Doug worked in Manhattan for a large educational publishing and test prep company, while I was at home with Emma and working as a per-diem consultant for the Bronx Zoo's Education Department. We rented the top floor of a row house from which I could walk to the grocery store, parks, the bank, a fresh produce market, decent coffee, great Italian food, and authentic sushi. It was cramped to say the least (and becoming ever more so with the impending birth of Nicholas), and noisy at times in ways that only a big city can be. But it was home. And we were happy there. Or so I thought.
And then....on a random night in mid-September:
Doug: I can't do this anymore.
Me: (thinking he's referring to the slapped together meal I'd concocted out of leftovers) So don't eat it and make yourself some soup.
Doug: No. Not that. This job. This apartment. The noise. The city. The cold. The snow.
Me: (dumbfounded) uhh.....ok. What do you mean?
Doug: I mean I want to do something different. I want my life to mean something. I'm 40 and I don't feel like I've ever had a job that made a real contribution. And I don't want to live like this anymore. In this apartment. In this city. Riding the train every day. I'm done.
(I got up from the table, grabbed myself a forbidden Pepsi, and strapped myself in for a long, head-throbbing conversation about compromise.)
I should interject here that at this point, my mother had recently relocated to our current state of residence to be closer to my brother and his children who had been living here for years. My father had also made the decision to do so within the year. And Emma and I had visited my mother her in Cackalackie a few months prior to the aforementioned conversation. When asked by my dear husband upon my return to NY what I thought of it, I believe the words I chose were, "I will NEVER raise my child in that God-forsaken place!" Never say never....
Fast forward several weeks: (in the midst of a similar conversation)
Me: So what do you think you want to do then? You've already considered teaching and ruled that out. So what?
Doug: Well, I'm too old to be a firefighter which I'd love, so I think I want to be a cop.
Doug: I think I want to be a cop.
Fast forward several weeks and mountains of paperwork later:
Doug: I got an invitation for an interview in the mail today.
Doug: For the police job. They liked my application. Apparently my age is not an issue with them.
Me: (with no attempt to hide my selfish motives) That's right around when we'll be down there for the holidays anyway. We can just extend our trip!
Fast forward several months later and only weeks before the birth of Nicky:
Doug: I got the job! Holy crap! I got the job!
Me: I mean, that's great! Good for you! So I guess we're moving. (feeling my bulging belly) OH....I guess we're moving!?!?! Crap! When? When is this happening?!?
Doug: I don't know. They want me to report in April, the beginning of April.
Me: What?!? (again, hand on belly) He's only due on the 17th of March! You want me to pack a house, take care of Emma, have a baby, nurse said baby, lick my wounds, and move all within a matter of 4 weeks!?!?
Doug: Hmmm...Yeah. That's not gonna' work.
Me: You bet your ass that's not gonna' work! I'm supportive of this whole life-crisis, life-with-more-meaning career change of yours, but not that supportive! Ask them if you can move the start date. TELL THEM you have to move the start date. No....I'll tell them....
Doug: (interrupting) No, no, no...I'll call tomorrow.
Fast forward 2 months and we were on a plane to Cackalackie. I had just had my post-partum checkup, Nicky was one day shy of 2 months old, and Emma was 4 days shy of 18 months. And in the wee hours of a cold spring morning, we packed our little family into our little Hyundai and headed for LaGuardia, tears in my eyes as I watched our friends and downstairs neighbors crying in their living room window.
We've been here ever since. And the transition was all too fast for me. I'm still reeling from it. For Doug it was just right. A change that invigorated his spirit and mind, presenting him with new and meaningful challenges that could not come fast enough. For me it was a willing surrender in support of the man I love, but it was also a flight to isolation, unfamiliarity, and the bizarre. And it happened too fast. I would've liked to drive here. To see the miles pass me by. To soak in the experience of moving. But with a toddler and newborn, it just wasn't possible. And so, instead, we hopped on a plane headed 2 hours south. And in a matter of 8 months and a 120 minute flight, I had been transported not just to a new place, but to a new life. Such a short amount of time for such a monumental change.
But here we are....blindsided or not....livin' life...as a rookie cop, a mom, and two kids....down in Cackalackie.