Moving east has been quite the process. Arizona to California was easy. California to Colorado was easy. Colorado to somewhere east, but not specifically anywhere yet, that has been harder. I love CO, the people there, the towns, the job. I have no complaints accept that we really weren’t enjoying it to it’s full potential, simply because the cost of living didn’t align with our income. We know the east coast may not be cheaper, but it will be a stepping stone for Matt once he graduates due to a larger pool of potential employment.
I started the adventure April 16th, and here it is May 1st that I am starting to write this. Alone in the house in New Hampshire for the first night, suffering mild anxiety. The dog barks a lot, which leads me to believe there is a murder outside and there is no phone service here so I can’t even call 911.
I left CO late in the evening hoping that Juniper would be awesome and sleep through the night. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and when I arrived at my parents house at 4am, we had stopped several times. While there, I got to see all of the important family and friends and get prepped for the next 7 days of driving. I got to see a new/old friend Jenny, in Prescott. She is sweet as pie and we had mutual friends in high school, but had never really been in the same circle. We reconnected this last year thanks to her awesome motivation to get me back into working out and losing weight. She’s been killing it lately and I’m really excited to start my own healthy ways back up this week. We also went to visit my grandma who’s well into her 90’s. It’s always fun, she’s gotten to be quite blunt and opinionated as she’s aged and she kills me with the things she says.
I think the hardest, but most important part of my time in AZ, was as we were leaving. We stopped in Show Low, AZ. It was brutal. A woman I was incredibly close to as a young teenager, a second mom of sorts, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I knew this would be the last time I ever saw her. Her name is Clara and her attitude is incredible. The way she is taking it on and surrounding herself with her friends and family is so amazing. I hate that it’s happening to her of all people. I’d take my cancer diagnosis over hers any day. What I went through was hard, but it was cake compared to what she is dealing with. Just to sit with her again and watch the joy she still carries herself with was so humbling. Tears were certainly shed.
I wish I had been able to spend more time in the high desert of New Mexico. I love the buttes and rock formations that make up the landscape in northeastern AZ and into NM. The first night put us in Albuquerque, it was pretty generic as a city and there wasn’t much of note.
I really loved northern Texas. We blew through it in a matter of hours , but it was a perfect combination of rural, agriculture, canyon land, rocks and a little accent. I would love to spend more time in Texas, and venture farther south. We got to stop at the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo and after seeing photos for years, it was awesome!
Oklahoma was not the most positive experience to say the least. I had put a large canvas cargo carrier on top of my car with every clothing item and pair of shoes in it with the exception of the duffle I was living out of for the drive. Including but not limited to all my professional clothes for potential interviews and jobs, all my winter clothes, sweaters, boots etc and all my bras and workout clothes, t-shirts from concerts and high school and pjs. You get the idea. My mom was really upset. I was really mad that people suck sometimes, but once it all sank in, I realized it was ok. I’ve been trying to purge so much of the old stuff out of my life for years and I always end up packing it back up. This has been a tough way to purge, but I do feel a bit refreshed from it. I left OKC as fast as I could. Then realized a hour or so later that I hadn’t even gotten my coffee because we had thrown up the deuces so quickly. Eastern Oklahoma was actually quite pretty and lush. So many armadillo’s. All of them dead. My mom managed to attempt to identify every dead animal we came across. This isn’t an exaggeration. At one point she saw either a large turkey, or possibly a llama in a pen we passed. I asked her if she could explain how it could be one of those two particular animals, she said “well, it had a really big neck, so it was hard to tell.” Yup.
Arkansas was so pretty! Vibrant green everywhere. We by chance ended up in Burns Park, right off I-40, that was amazing. Quite possibly the best free park we’ll ever go to. Arkansas was another state we made it all the way through in a day so we didn’t see much, but the Ozark’s were great and the people were nice.
I am in LOVE with Tennessee. It’s lush, has culture, southern charm, modern thinking, & music. There is a solid beer culture and a coffee culture. Two things I am a sincere fan of. I want to explore so many more neighborhoods, learn my way through it all. I texted Matt as I left Memphis that we were moving to TN. Then I got to Nashville and Knoxville and the deal was pretty much sealed. I want to live there. Tomorrow. I’d love a second home, tiny but right on the water with a dock and dense dense trees up in the Smoky’s if I can pull off being spoiled someday. It’s made for me. Seeing the statue of Coach Summitt and the basketball hall of fame was something I never thought I’d see. She was an incredible coach and created such an amazing basketball program. Walking around Knoxville was surreal. I don’t think many people in my adult life realize how much I loved the Lady Vols and the Tar Heel’s. I was a geek about them growing up and I was giddy to say the least.
North Carolina wasn’t new for me, but Ashville was. It is adorable. I’d live there too if the employment world was a little more promising. We got to stop at HOLE and see Alice. The donuts were unreal you guys. Alice looked amazing as usual and was as sweet as ever! I loved the Smoky’s and driving into Asheville was so pretty! I’ll be back in this town, hands down. We actually got a bit distracted and dipped into South Carolina for about 45 min. It actually worked out perfectly as we were staying with family and they are only about 10 minutes from the border outside of Charlotte.
The day we drove from NC to PA was brutal. We were constantly in stop and go traffic on the freeway. (I learned it’s called the interstate out here thanks to a fellow in TN) For no particular reason, traffic would come to a standstill. No accident, no work traffic. It was a Sunday! We hit DC and driving there is a joke! We didn’t have much time to spend there, so I had my mom pick the one thing she wanted to see. The Lincoln Memorial. Easy enough I thought, there is no parking so I’ll drop her off, circle and pick her back up. HA! I tried to circle around and the road systems there shot me out back in the opposite direction and it took me close to 30 min just to get back toward her, thanks to traffic, roads leading no where and 5 million tourists stepping out in front of cars. When I picked her up I vowed that I’d never return. I may someday, but for now I am content with what I saw. We made it all the way up to my cousins in York PA. They have a great little house there and it was good to see them.
The final day of driving is the day I really started to realize I wasn’t loving the east. Yes, there was burn-out from being in the car for the 7th straight day, but I just didn’t like the vibe, and vibe is important to me. Driving through NJ and NY was terrible. The chaotic driving, the concrete expanses, the way everything felt packed in and maxed out. I just couldn’t hang. Once we got up to Connecticut and into Massachusetts it was a bit better. My heart had already fallen for TN and this more or less felt like the final confirmation that I wasn’t cut out for New England.
I finally got to see and experience a bit of Boston when I took my mom to the airport and I was happy with what I saw. It wasn’t the chaos of NY, it was crowded but in an expected way. Should we decide to settle nearby I’d be ok with it. Not forever, but for a year or two.
I am certainly in a bit of culture shock here in NH. I grew up country if you will, but this is a whole new level. The remoteness isn’t so much the issue. It’s the people. New England, you are your own breed. The level of friendly is lacking, emoting nothing seems to be a theme. There are stores dedicated entirely to damaged boxes of food and dented cans. It’s creepy. I think what I have felt most, is a haunting feeling, maybe from the grey sky, maybe from the bare trees. Nights alone in the house have been a test for my anxiety. I usually hold my own pretty well, but every sound unnerves me here. I think I will adjust in time. Just in time to head south.
Happy Weekend All!