Starting Over and Over and Over

It dawned on me the other day that I live in New Jersey. You think this would be obvious, but for the last few months, I've been  thinking of it like an extended stay--like how, in high school, I went to Einbeck, Germany for two months. In fact, it's a lot like moving to Germany--everyone talks with an accent, seems somewhat indifferent to hardships (like driving) and takes it for granted that there will be breweries/strip malls to your left at all times. But I've done this before--started over from scratch in another city--a bunch of other times as a kid, and three other times as an adult.

When I was twenty-three-ish, I moved to Chicago, where I knew exactly one person who was moving away at the end of the summer. I transferred from a TGIFridays in Dunedin to a  TGIFridays on Erie Street, and instead of leaving when I was supposed to at the end of August, I found a roommate in The Reader and stayed for five years.

After that, I applied to grad school and moved to a completely different place, State College, PA, a little insular college town in the valley of rural Pennsylvania. I again knew no one, but made friends pretty fast with the other people who were in the same boat--a bunch of nerdy English majors stuck in a town where football was king. I stayed there for six years.

Then, I moved to Philadelphia, a city that I'd visited a few times, but where I again didn't know anyone except for Liz and Tara, and I'd only met them once or twice before that. The city move was harder because it wasn't like grad school where everyone was struggling to make friends and also, it had more rats and homeless people, though was definitely more manageable in size than Chicago. I stayed there for eight years.

Now, I'm in another completely different state--and I know Dan and Luke, but not that many other people, except for my friends from work; and those are people I still don't spend much time with outside of the nine to five hours. And it's more like Florida than any other place I've lived---meaning that it's fairly suburban and people are used to driving everywhere and you don't really walk places. In Chicago and State College, and Philly, I walked everywhere; I walked way more than I drove and when you walk, you run into people and you get to eavesdrop on strangers conversation and take pictures of the things you see along the way.

Here, I'm in a bubble--a car bubble, and sometimes, I look over at the person in the next car, trying to pass the time figuring out what that person is all about and failing, because on Route 1, you're only ever stopped in one place for three seconds. How can I make this place more like the other places I've lived? Or is that the wrong question? Where can I find the new things that I'll enjoy doing? Can you ever enjoy being in a car to get from one place to another? Yes, you can, a little. One thing I do now is look for this horse at a farm I pass if I go down Clarksville Road to work, and then today, I saw the same little bull terrier dog pulling his owner along, and I was like, I know that dog! That's the same dog from yesterday! 
Is that enough to go on?

Maybe it will change in the warmer weather--I'll have more than a five second conversation with Mimi, the lady with the little dog and I'll offer to walk the dog on the weekends. I'll realize that I can walk on the path all the way to the coffee shop in the fake, dying town center. Or maybe we can move to Lambertville.

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