When Jim and I made the none too small step of deciding to change our lives abruptly, once again, and move on from the restaurants, it forced one very tough question into the forefront – well, my love, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Egads. That is a question that you obsess over when your 5, then perhaps again when your 16, then once more when you hit 21. It just seems like, just shy of 40, a tough question. I think that everyone thought, after 10 years of business plans and long term plans and daily plans and plenty of checklists that there had to be, just had to be, a grand plan for us to take this leap off a bridge. Uh, no. That’s just the motto, leap off the bridge, check the water level later. Perhaps it doesn’t work for all, but it has worked for us, so far.
So, I shelved it. I’ll face that battle soon enough.
I decided to focus on where first: Where do I want to be when I grow up?
It seems like such a luxurious question to ask.
It really started to bounce around in the brain a bit on Saturday morning. Driving home from the farmers market in the city and I was listening to NPR. It was weekend edition with Scott Simon, who has a great voice by the way. But they cut into the program for a news segment, and the news included a bit about the new area code that has all NYC fired up once again. The transition from 212 to 646 was apparently seismic (and a really great Seinfeld episode), and the new 332 is generating more discussion on social media then most (not all), but most other crises out there.
It just sort of made me sit there and wonder, who exactly are all these people who have lived in one spot for so long that there identity is attached to an area code. I can’t begin to count the area codes that I have called home thus far – let alone remember all of them.
Military upbringing meant multiple locations throughout childhood – I can put at least 10 on the list there. Then young adulthood saw continued moving, plus school, plus jobs – I think that is at least 12 more. Then came New Jersey. And, somehow, in what seems like the blink of an eye, I have managed to spend more time in New Jersey with the restaurants than I have spent in any one location at any other point in my life – 12 years total.
I moved to New Jersey to be with Jim. His work at the paper company was based here, and thus were we. The restaurants followed, and they have a nasty habit of being not remarkably mobile, so here we stayed. And here became the first spot where an area code stayed around for longer than a year or so – 908.
But, I still don’t consider myself a New Jersey-ian. I don’t have deep roots and ties to this area beyond the community we built for ourselves with the restaurants. The 908, the Exit 136 is where I live – not who I am.
And it never has been. Throughout my life, thus far, location has always been a topic of conversation – do I have an accent from my 4 months in Minnesota as so many claim they can hear? do I consider myself an expat for having grown up out-of-country for so many years? do I consider myself an east coaster for having lived more time there on a whole?
So many spots have claimed a little piece of my heart – NJ among them. It became a home. A true community that offered both of us friends, customers, and so much more and supported a little dream that became a really remarkable thing. Seattle, California, Germany, DC, Boston – the cities and locations I have been privileged to call home have always played a role in shaping my likes, dislikes, and perhaps anchoring me for a time. But, there is not one yet amongst them that feels like my identity is attached to it.
And, although it may mean a new area code to learn, new people to meet, and a new community to one day, hopefully, form, it is why the question of “where” carries with it such intrigue and luxury. Where will be the next spot that I get to be me?
I’ll keep you posted. xo Andrea