Thursday, May 04, 2006

How can I leave?

So the time has come to return to Utah. I am 27 years old, and I have been living in the New York City area for almost three years. I started in Manhattan, then had a brief stay in Queens, and settled for the long haul in Brooklyn. When I came to New York I was a 24 year old single woman who had just barely graduated from college. I am now a 27 year old married, pregnant professional. I dreamt of living in the big city all my life. I had it in my head "If I could make it here, I could make it anywhere!" And, not to brag, but I did pretty well. I had several promotions in my company, was able to take a year long masters certificate program at the City University of New York on full scholarship, and do something I really never found possible in Utah, find a husband!
So, why then, am I leaving? Mainly because my mother has cancer, and I feel that it is time to move home and be with her. Other strong factors: As much as I love the city, I want my baby to have a backyard to play in. I want my baby to have cousins to hang out with. I want to be able to afford the cost of living, and not pay a full paycheck toward a roach infested shoebox of an apartment. I want to have a separation between work and home. I do not want to spend my entire life sitting on the subway.
Reactions from friends and co-workers are usually of two separate minds. There are those who are appalled that I would go back to the "country" after experiencing what "real life" has to offer. Others, when they see the cost of living, and think of their own tired lives, ask me if a Jewish woman would be able to find friends in Utah, because they want to come along. I even had a Physical Therapist at my work wonder out loud if he could commute by plane from SLC to NYC when he saw the cost of houses. He said the plane ride daily may end up cheaper than his current condo payment.
So, how do I feel? I admit that my emotions are very mixed. I will limit my emotions to three catergories: What I will miss, What I will not miss, and What I am scared of.
What I will miss: Culture. I will miss the fact that the people I work with are from ten different countries, rather than just serving missions there. I will miss the smells of lunch at work, where someone is eating a dish from the West Indies, while another is eating a Kosher Sandwich, someone else has Halal meat, while I am eating left over Filippino food. I will miss the fact that people have so many different religions and beliefs, and that we can discuss and share all of them. I will miss being different from everyone else in a good way (because in Utah I am seen as different from the "Mormon" norm in a bad way.) I will miss the ocean. Oh, will I miss the ocean so much! I will miss the members of my ward, and the fact that the majority are converts, and the majority do not speak English as their first language. I will miss shopping at Shop-Rite on Friday night, when the lines are extremely short because of the Shabbat. I will miss the food at ward parties. I will miss seeing people at church in pants, with tatoos, and any other number of "scandalous" attire. I will miss being able to sing louder than the congregation. I will miss Broadway, of course. I will miss fruit stands. I will miss tax free food and clothing. I will miss the people I work with. I will miss being needed in the ward rather than being a number. The list could go on and on.
What I will not miss: I will not miss the smells of the subway. I will not miss seeing someone throw up on the subway. I will not miss riding the train while pregnant. I will not miss the laundromat. I will not miss my high car insurance payment. I will not miss the high price of gas. I will not miss needing to ride the subway for half an hour just to enjoy a patch of grass. I will not miss alternate side of the street parking. I will not miss parallel parking. I will not miss the elevated cost of a burger at Wendy's. I will not miss the fact that it takes over an hour to get just about anywhere! I will not miss paying over ten dollars to see a movie. I will not miss humidity. Although I will miss the sisters of my ward, I will not miss the pressure of being RS president. I will not miss tolls on tunnels, bridges, roads, etc. I will not miss hearing about family activies rather than attending them. Again, this list could also go forever.
What I am scared of: Going to church. I am not looking forward to returning to a Utah ward where everyone looks, dresses, and acts the same. I am scared that I have developed a lot of impatience, and I will snap at the perky person bagging my groceries, or honk at every person who slows down in front of me. I am scared to death of enrichment activities that include glue guns and scrapbooking and any number of "crafty" activities. I am scared of having conversations with people who think of Anita Stansfield as a best seller and Michael McClean as a hit record. I am scared of the judging looks I will get as I continue to work after my baby is born, and even continue to work on a Master's degree. I am scared of the pointing fingers and judgmental attitudes that made me want to leave Utah in the first place. I am scared of being separated from my husband while he finishes the school year. (It was the best way to work everything out, for me to take a job in Utah now, and for him to finish teaching here in Brooklyn for the school year.)
Maybe I am irrational. I hope to find people who I can bond with. I have always had friends in Utah in the past, and I know there is diversity there if you look close enough. In some ways I hope my worries are unfounded, but unfortunately I imagine some of them will be right on the nail.

12 comments:

Jared said...

Do I get to be the first to leave a comment? Cool!

I don't have much to write, other than I always paid $0.99 at Wendys, until they closed the one near my office.

And just because Michael McClain flopped on Broadway, doesn't make him any less of a superstar.

Maren said...

yeah, my first comment! I guess this shows that more than just one New Yorker does things other than work at the office! And as for the .99 menu, in some places that still works, but the Wendy's by my school jacked up the price to $1.29. That is the problem when you go to school across the Empire State Building.

Nancy P said...

Well, M, we're really going to miss you in Bensonhurst, but of course you should go home to be with your mother. Your presence will mean the world to her.

I do hope that your memories of NYC will be mostly good. Sorry you're so far from work and grass and so forth. Sounds like you've just been living too far east in Brooklyn! Perhaps if you'd had a chance to enjoy the wonders of Bay Ridge you wouldn't have felt so deprived. :>

You know that Ed and I often talk about building a real house instead of renting an apartment. But we would have to leave Brooklyn to do so, and one of the things I would most dread is having to DRIVE everywhere again, putting myself at risk of horrible car crashes or breakdowns on deserted stretches of road, not to mention having to shell out hundreds of dollars every month just for gas. In addition, homeowners' duties such as lawn-mowing, property taxes and home maintenance are highly overrated. I guess I'm trying to say there's a lot of conveniences I would miss about the city if we ever leave. I love being able to walk to do all my shopping, and have become a huge fan of NY's public transportation.

I'm sure you will make tons of friends back home, and they will all love your darling husband. Hope you don't run into too many narrow-minded people who make you feel uncomfortable because they consider you a bi-racial couple or treat him like some kind of quaint oddity rather than the wonderful person that he is. Middle America can be funny that way.

Anyway, you will always be able to say that you DID "make it there" and you CAN "make it anywhere" now that you've conquered "New York, New York." It's no small feat; you should be proud.

Maren said...

Nancy,
I will miss you too. Your comment about driving is funny, because that is one of the reasons I was excited to come to New York. I hated car breakdowns, accidents, etc. Rebecca and I have had conversations about the fact that we now know how to walk and use public transportation, so the buses in Salt Lake City will not seem so crazy. Rebecca and I plan to walk and grocery shop with one of the push carts from New York, partially just to get looks! I do worry about the cost of gas and commuting, and like how much reading I get done on the subway. If it weren't for the darn nausea of pregnancy, I probably would not be so excited to leave the subway behind. I do love public transit. Utah is getting well on its way with the commuter trains, so that is good.
I worry about the property taxes and all as well, and know that owning a house has a lot of difficulties to it. Living in the city has had its advantages. I also forgot to mention how much I will miss really good bagels! Not to mention your sunday school lessons!

Maren said...

PS- the bi-racial thing does worry me a little. Only because I do not want people to see anything but the wonderful husband that I have. I know that in so many ways I got the lucky end of the deal in marrying Arwin, and that he has to put up with a lot from me. I also am afraid of comments from people who will assume I adopted a child because their skin color may be different than mine. However, I think my children will have a rich heritage and will know that they come from an exciting background on both sides. I think that Arwin and I are blessed to have been brought together by God, and am proud of our relationship. We have found several Filipino's living in Utah, and hope that we can gain many friends there. After all, what fun is the weekend without a good Karaoke Party?

Rebecca said...

I am also moving from Brooklyn, NY to UT. I have to admit that I have my reservations as well. I would really prefer to attend a family ward when I return to UT. However, since I didn't obtain a husband in NY (as predicted by friends when I left UT to move to NY), I know I'll just have to deal with the fact that many people will want to know why I don't attend one of the singles' wards. But I discovered that family wards have an awesome capacity to become just like an extended family, if you'll let them. While I have attended singles'/student (yes, there is a difference) wards before and there was a great sense of unity there, its a different feeling. Family wards have members of all ages and from all walks of life, making the ward experience, at least for me, more varied and interesting. To me singles'/student wards have mostly all members who are at the same stage in life, roughly. Its a lot of the same. Whatever. I want a ward with a Primary and Youth, and older people who have been through most of their lives and like to offer random pieces of advice. So, upon returning home I will most likely attend a family ward and just deal with people questioning why I'm doing what I'm doing. That won't be a new experience for me anyway. Its the idea that bothers me. I'd like to think that it doesn't especially matter as long as I attend Church. Perhaps it really doesn't, and I'm just paranoid. We'll see.

Chrissy said...

I have the perfect solution. You could always move to Denver. HEHEHE! In the Chrissy's dreams right....oh well, at least I'll get to see you more often. That's always a good thing. Oh, one more thing....I'll read your blog if you read mine. HAHAHA! www.chrissaroo.blogspot.com
Love ya babe! I'll see you soon hopefully. Too bad we'll miss each other by a week.

Maren said...

Or, as I suggested, you could just move to Salt Lake, Chrissy! Sure I will check out your blog.
Rebecca, I agree completely that going to church should be the point, not where you go. The nice part about small wards is that they don't care who you are, they are just glad to have another person. Large Utah wards make it easy to get lost in shuffle, or worse a person can be judged if they do not "fit in" because of their marital status, clothing choice, etc. Hence my comment about missing women in pants and people with tatoos at church.

Dad said...

Well, for one I am glad to have you move back. It'll make seeing my new grandchild much easier. You'll find a lot less of the stares for mixed marriages. Our Bishop is Tongan, and his wife is Caucasian. We have 2 men in the Ward with Japanese wives, and 2 women in the Ward with African Ameican husbands, and we have a new couple where he is Venezualan, and she is Caucasian. A Filipino-Caucasian couple won't make a dent in this Ward. And many others have similar situations.

Most people here realize now that many women have to work to pay for houses, their children's education, etc., so you'll find a lot of women in any ward you move to that are working, too. There is nothing wrong with furthering your education either.

When Commuter Rail AND the Legacy Highway are done (you'll be excited to see the work is actually going forward and visible as you drive down I-15) it will be much easier to get to and from Davis County and Salt Lake City and surrounding suburbs. Right now, though, it is so crowded on the Freeway that when you add an accident or 2 or some construction the commute comes to a full stop on some occasions. I know you are used to long commutes on the subway, but it is a little different where you are behind the wheel trying to control your progress and having that control hindered. But perseverance wins out in the end, and the commuters get to their destinations.

You'll get back to NYC on visits, I am sure, because we continue to go their ourselves. It is just a fun place to visit, and we have to see the best of the plays on Broadway before they make the national tours. It is just a must do to go see them on Broadway.

Just be careful packing, loading, and driving.

We are looking forward to you coming, and then we will be really happy when Arwin arrives to make it all complete.

Maren said...

The other day I saw on the news that the Lincoln Tunnel was moving well, and the camera showed the cars at almost a standstill, so I still imagine Utah to be better. Where it may take an hour to go 30 miles in Utah, it can take over an hour to go 10 miles here.
I know your ward is very diversified, Dad, which makes me glad to be moving to your ward.
I know the family is looking forward to us being there, so I am excited for that.

Janette said...

I concur with your comments regarding New York!

If I may wax poetic a bit:

New York is in my blood. Never will I be so affected by a place I am living. There is this bizarre New York mentality that I am trying to put into words. It is true that there is a whole world that exists outside of The Big Apple...but when you are in New York (specifically living there) you come to an understanding that New York is the world.

Now that I am living in Washington DC, I am going through New York withdrawals...My eyes are again being opened to the rest of the world. This process will take time, but progress is being made.

Maren said...

Having lived in both DC and NYC myself, I would say you are correct. DC introduced me to the world, because I met so much of the world when I lived there. However, NYC is the world. Everyone is represented and their world mixes with our world. Everyone can be themselves, and no one expects you to change. On the train yesterday I watched a man preach to everyone that Jesus was coming, as an orthodox Jewish man sat quietly reciting things from the Torah, and the lady next to me read her romance novel, while I was reading the Ensign. (Not being particularly righteous, but only having the Ensign because most of my books are now packed.) In DC, most people tried to fit into the DC world, where in NYC everyone stays in their world and accepts that others stay in their world.
Both places have their wonderful things, and I love DC. I guess I could say that to me DC is America and NYC is the world.