First, it takes as long as it takes. How long is that? Who knows.
I suppose I thought that because I was moving back to a place I’d lived, and that I had friends and colleagues here, that it would be a short snap of the fingers and I’d feel that sense of belonging right away. Not true. My son is here, with his girlfriend. My best, long-time friends are here, but all of them have their own lives and habits and jobs. There’s not a lot of openings for me. My colleagues are the same although many have moved on to other places as well.
Second, it takes oodles of patience.
In NYC, everything was fast-paced. We jumped on subways to get places quickly. We walked fast. It was a rush, rush sort of place. I actually loved that pace (except for buses and taxis that went slow.) In Austin, it’s get in your car and then get stuck in traffic forever, or so it seems. I’m learning to be patient while my car is stuck on the highway
More importantly, as I navigate my next career steps, I’m definitely developing patience. I’m meeting with old friends and colleagues, but on their time schedules. I want to see them NOW. But once again, they have their lives.
Third, the social situation is different here.
In NY, all I had to do was walk out my door, down the street, hop on the subway and I could be almost anyplace in 15 minutes. so, I could call friends at the last minute and meet at a cafe for a glass of wine. NY is also a place where it’s easy (or at least not uncomfortable) to dine alone.
In Austin, it appears that people are always with others and it feels oddly uncomfortable to go anyplace alone, except maybe a coffee shop. Also, Austin is very large and spread out. The only way to get around is in your car and it takes a long time. The result is: I spend more time alone than before.
On the other hand, there’s the upside:
- I sleep like a log — no noisy sirens or people out on the streets.
- Everything in my neighborhood is green — grass, trees, plants. The only concrete is the sidewalk.
- I must admit, people are friendlier. Lots of “thanks for coming in” or “please come back”
- It’s really casual — boots and jeans are commonplace, even at professional meetings.
- It’s warmer (so far)
- I’m loving the new adventure of it all.
So why do I share all this with you? Well, ReInventing or Starting Over is a choice to be made, but with consideration. It’s definitely not for everyone. I’ve reinvented many times in my life, but these past two times — moving to NYC at age 60, and back to Austin at 69 — were/ are particularly challenging. However, I wouldn’t change that for the world. I might even have more “starting overs” hanging out in my brain someplace. It keeps me young and vital and excited.
As a Co-Houser … (I think I made that term up), it’s definitely nice to have another person around to ease some of the discomfort of all this. We share meals, conversation and do some fun things together as well. Then, we can retreat to our separate parts of the house to have alone time, watch what we want on TV or read or whatever. It’s an enriching experience. It helps in the times of concern, challenge, loneliness AND it also is an adventure and a co-creation of what’s possible.