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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Adjusting to a new way of life

I have this huge window on the east wall of my living room. It is really only about half the size of the window on the east wall of the living room of the house I grew up in. I don’t remember watching the sunrise once through that window when I was growing up. I also don’t remember ever being excited to look out of it. After years in the city with windows through which I could only see a few mostly messy and cramped backyards and the old townhouses that accompanied them, I now find myself super excited about what is outside of my windows. I close the blinds at night because it seems wrong not to do so. Then, the first thing I do in the morning is open them all up. I practically run to see what is outside of my living room window. I am excited to see the picture before me. In my apartment in Jersey City, I kept my blinds closed all the time. My room was much prettier with them closed than it was with them open. Now my window is a form of entertainment.

One thing I am continually learning over time is humility. I mention this because it is going to take some humility to admit what I am about to say. I hope all of you will have the humility to never rub it in my face. I am glad I went to the East coast. I love many of the people I met there. I love what I learned. I love the way it changed me. It was only through moving there, moving away from the country and small town life, that I could actually come to appreciate what small town life and wide open spaces have to offer.

Besides not all that many of us find the same things important in our mid-to-late-thirties as we did when we were in our early twenties. Did I really describe myself as getting close to my late thirties? Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone, but do remember to wish me a happy birthday soon! (hahahaha)

I am already entirely unpacked and really need to find something to do. My first job interview is on Thursday. Today I began the process of applying for more jobs. Honestly, it will be hard for me to not take the first one offered on account of needing something to fill my day with as well as a form of being with people and meeting more people in my community.

People here are super friendly. When someone is not super friendly, I find it a bit odd and then realize they just didn’t go above and beyond to make sure that I was the world’s happiest customer. Where I am from (New Jersey), I don’t expect anyone to be more than courteous in a store. It is kind of fun to feel like people in stores here are friends and not just business people. There are one or two stores where they seemed much more like business people, which bummed me out. But I figure I need to visit the store at least a few more times to know whether my first visit caught a worker on one of their off days.

I certainly became a city person. When I had that wonderful chat with that 89-year-old man in Taylorville, Illinois, I found myself assessing the safety of the circumstances I was in for about the first 30 seconds. The man was so frail it seemed questionable whether his cane was going to hold him up. I am not quite sure what set my alarm systems off except that when a stranger starts to talk to you what you do is assess whether this stranger is a threat to one’s personal safety. I suppose it might be good to do that to some extent anywhere. I found myself cringing at my actions even as I performed my safety assessment on this elderly gentleman.

I guess I am detoxing from the overstimulation and potential danger that comes from living among hundreds of thousands of strangers. Now I am living among less than 10,000 strangers, which should really help with overstimulation.

I am concluding that safety and risk assessment of our circumstances has a lot to do with what we are used to. After eight years of not driving and then beginning to drive in the NYC metropolitan area, I became very aware in the last month of how dangerous driving is. Even as I came across the country, I often marveled about how we get into vehicles and ride down highways at speeds that are life-threatening if we or the people around us make a fairly small error in judgment. Riding in an airplane feels much safer to me. Walking on the streets of Manhattan without a cell phone feels much safer to me. Risk assessment has so little to do with what is actually safe statistically and so much to do with what our nervous systems are used to experiencing. I, for one, am still a little intimidated by driving, which when I was a teenager was no big deal to learn seeing as I drove farm machinery since I was 8 years old.

And what is happening out my window now? Snow is blowing around. I can faintly see the outline of a mountain that is about four blocks away from me. Isn’t it cool that there is a mountain four blocks away from me???!?


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