I happen to know a thing or two about relocation and settling into a new place.
I know how long it can take to get acclimated to a new town. To learn my way around, both literally and figuratively, and to eventually stop feeling like the new kid on the block. I’ve experienced the desperate panic to find the right hairdresser before my roots grow out; to schedule doctor appointments before health records are needed for school; and to not let too much time lapse in my exercise rituals (especially with all those unpacking pizza nights). And, unfortunately, I also know what it’s like to move somewhere and realize that my people are not settling in, are not happy, and want to move back to where we came from.
I had an unusual childhood. I was born in Summit, New Jersey. My family relocated to Madrid, Spain when I was six; to Estoril, Portugal when I was eight; and to Rome, Italy when I was ten. “We’re American, but we live in Rome” became the family answer to quizzical looks from locals. It was actually so common that we had to resist the urge to use air quotes, roll our eyes at each other or laugh inappropriately. Usually the next logical question…Military? Nope, we were corporate — my father worked for Colgate Palmolive.
I can’t deny that this was a pretty awesome life. Growing up in foreign countries and being exposed to different people, cultures, foods, and languages influenced much of who I am today. The international schools instilled in me a global viewpoint, and vacation travel throughout Europe continued to fuel my love of new places and experiences. It wasn’t always easy, even with the support from Colgate and other American expats. However, my parents did a good job of shielding my brother and me from most of the challenges and difficulties of moving and living abroad.
After college in Boston, my nomadic life continued back to Summit, NJ (my parents were finally back from Europe); Manhattan for nine years (marketing career); Charlottesville, VA (brief stint for grad school); Pittsburgh, PA (first year of marriage to James); Jersey City, NJ (for James’ law school); then Rochester, NY (James’ hometown) in 2003. We settled in Webster (a suburb of Rochester) — working, playing, and building James’ law practice. Our daughter was born. At some point Rochester became the place I had lived the longest, but for whatever reason, I’m not sure I really ever considered it “home.”
Then in 2015, James and I decided to shake things up — to move to a bigger city, a much warmer climate, and a lower tax state. We sold almost everything and moved to Miami, Florida. It was not a whim, it took over a year of planning, research, and James having to pass the FL bar exam. Despite dreams of living la vida loca in the 305, Miami turned out to not be the right fit for us. There’s a lot to love about Miami and I am glad we experienced it, however living there long term was not meant to be.
So one year, one month and one day later, we’re back in Rochester, NY and really happy to be here. I know I am not alone in realizing that sometimes you have to move away to really appreciate where you’re from. There’s no place like home!