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.