today marks our ten year anniversary in louisville. i will never forget the day i said a tearful goodbye to my mother on the tarmac of white plains airport in westchester, new york and got on a little puddle jumper of an airplane headed for louisville, kentucky. as i sat down with our almost two year old son in my lap, i thought to myself "what the hell am i doing?"
i am a yankee girl, a born and bred new englander at heart. i was born in new york city and raised in connecticut. i spent my winters skiing in the catskills of upstate new york, and my summers by the sea off the coast of new hampshire. i went to school in boston, and after a brief stint in los angeles, i got married & lived in maine for five years. my husband is a massachusetts, boston- suburb boy through & through. we are total yankees.
now, there came a point in time after our son was born that we started to think about leaving maine. we had gotten about as far as we could in the company that we worked for, add the fact that the company was on shaky ground and jobs in maine at the time in my husbands' field were just not a dime a dozen. it was time to move on. and for a girl who thrives on change, i couldn't wait to start a new chapter. we were considering washington, dc and northern california. but the other day i will never forget was the one in which my husband said to me: "what do you think about moving to kentucky?" and while i can't recall my exact response, it was something along the lines of: "are you out of your fucking mind? over my dead body". that wasn't where i wanted the next chapter to begin. i had thought i would be in a way cooler book.
you see. i had a lot of preconceived notions about the south. i had a lot of preconcieved notions about a lot of things, but i'm better now. in addition to the brief stint in los angeles, i spent time in other places as well, northern california and sun valley idaho; and i could usually see myself living there. one of my brief stints was a year at a southern college. and it was fun, but after i left and transferred to a big school in boston, i never saw myself living in the south. (never say never people). in case you are new to the blog, or even if you have been reading forever and somehow missed it - i am high strung. i drove my college roomate crazy - i talked too fast, walked too fast, i did everything too fast. and she, to me - did everything at a snails' pace. the relaxed, friendly southern way of life and me did not jive well together. and frankly, it drove me absoultely crazy. when we moved here, i was driven to complete distraction by the slowness of the guy at the deli counter at the supermarket, and the chatty, chatty! woman who was checking out my groceries. um. is she talking to me? asking me about what i am buying? wtf? i would come home from the market ranting and raving to my husband about all manner of things: the slow-motion deli guys, the audacity of strange people who just chatted with you. out of the clear blue sky. like they knew you.
where i was from, the deli guys had your meat sliced in two seconds flat. and my god - the checkout woman never spoke to you. she just checked out your groceries. with swift efficiency. where i am from, and having been raised by a very new yorker father; you don't look people in the eye on the street. you don't stop and chat with random strangers. it takes years and years and years to make real friends, to build up real trust. we are new englanders. we are hardy. we are not chatty with strangers. we have walls. mine especially were way high and thick. it takes a long time to get past them.
when we moved here, and it was a head-spinning culture shock of a move - i spent the first two years asking my husband "when are we leaving?". i was hoping that maybe it was just a short stint and we could pack up again and start a new chapter somewhere else. but then we'd go back east to visit family. and there was so much traffic, and so many people, and everything was so expensive; and everything was just. so. much. i started to notice that i was chatting with random people. in a shop. on the street. and now i was being looked at like i was some kind of freak. i had the audacity to speak to them. out of the clear blue sky. like i knew them. my head stopped spinning at the culture shock or maybe the culture shock reversed itself - there came a day that i wondered why i wanted to come back east so much. and after that trip, when our plane landed back in louisville, i knew i was home. and that day was two years in the making and eight years ago.
it's spring in kentucky. it's derby season. i can smell the honeysuckle when i'm out running. the magnolia trees are blooming and leaving big beautiful purple and white petals everywhere. i'm having one of my "i love kentucky days". serendipitously on this ten year anniversary, the rain and cold have cleared, the sun is shining and the grass is greener than green.
there's something about ten years in one place that seals the deal. ten years is a long time. its long enough to plant a seed, and see the roots grow. its long enough to make lifelong friends, to make a life. a life you never want to leave. i may even listen to a little bluegrass to commemorate the occasion. bluegrass with a side of grits.