During the course of the morning I realized that we have now been here for six weeks. It's an important number, six weeks. After eight moves during our married life, nine if you count moving across the street in Charlottesville and thirteen if you go back to our pre-married days (I wont even give you the number of times I've moved in my whole life, it might make me look a little crazy) I've learned that six weeks is a turning point. The boxes are long gone, or, in this case, long since stuffed behind the couch. You've stopped saying "I just moved here" and know where all the important things are: the post office, the go-to grocery store, the when you have more time grocery store, the schools and parks and playgrounds. The Michael's (this is me, after all) and yarn stores and fabric stores (or lack there of). After six weeks, you stop feeling like your moving and start feeling like your living.
New York to entirely different than I expected. I looked forward to the adventure of life in the city but what I really expected was that this year away would give our family a chance to circle the wagons, so to speak. To spend more time together away from fixing up houses and PTO meeting and school concerts and community events. Not that I didn't love all of those things. I did. But taking a break from it just to be a family was appealing. I worried about getting around, about cramming into a small apartment about having no yard to play in or best friends just up the street.
The reality has been very different from all of my fears and concerns and even my expectations. I love the city. I love that there are so many parks we'll never get bored of them. I love that I haven't, even once, missed having a car. Our apartment is small, yes, but surprisingly well thought out for a family. There are places to escape to and sound proofed walls that mean that quiet time is possible, even when a legendary and complicated Angry Birds-esque Lego/Calico Critters battle is being waged in the other room.
But it is also hard at times. Will is busier than he has ever been. Busier than when he was an intern at his first job, busier than when he worked for himself and seemed to eat, drink and sleep his projects, busier than when he led projects on the other side of the world and had meetings at weird hours. It's no fault of his, or mine, or even the program he is in. It's just how it is. Busy. And we make it work. Hours and tasks are shuffled so that he is home for the important things. Our sleep schedule has shifted, with all of us staying up later and sleeping in later than we normally would because it means more time together. And that's fine. It works for us. And just as we used to fall into a alternate routine when Will was out of town, I've gotten us into a pseudo single parent schedule so that life cranks along pretty smoothly.
It's a good life. It's harder on poor Will than it is on us. He is missing most of the fun stuff, but he gets enough of it to make it worth while. And he loves school, which makes the busy days and nights worth while for me (most of the time ;)).
My Aunt recently passed on a piece of advice, to enjoy even the hard stuff. And that's what I keep reminding myself. Some nights the kids will not fall asleep, even when I'm so desperate for some peace and quiet that I could cry. But that's ok. It's life. It's motherhood. And it will be gone in a flash. Pretty soon I'll have to beg them to come out of their room and talk to me. Some days I want to scream at stalled subways or late buses or lines to get into museums or long walks home. But that's ok too. Because before I know it, this year will be gone and we'll be back in a car, driving thorough a normal small town life, and I'll miss buses and subways. Even the M11 which always seems to be ten minutes late, except when I'm running late, and then it's early. Some days I would kill to not have to wash every dish by hand. But that's ok because one day I'll have a dishwasher again and I'll miss....actually, no, I'll never miss not having a dishwasher.
There are days that I cant remember our old life. Almost like it's a dream that I can't quiet bring into focus. It seems like we've been here forever. Other days it's this life that seems more of a dream. Regardless of if the day has been good or bad I often look up and think "Do we really live here? In New York?" Almost as though this is a vacation, as if we are just pretending to live here.
I know we are no where near to being "New Yorkers". That would take years, a lifetime. But I'm enjoying that fact that I don't feel so much like a tourist anymore. My daughter has stopped (for the most part) licking the subway windows, I can come up out of a station and almost always walk the right direction without having to consult the GPS dot on Google Maps. my kids have found friends in our building and traipse up and down the stairs, running from one apartment back to the other to play. I saw Larry Davis walking down the street in front of Tom's Restaurant and was totally unfazed by it (no really, it was weird, but I kept walking because , eh, famous people, whatever) I've even been asked for directions a few times, and once I was actually helpful with my answer.
Day by day, little by little, we are settling into this new life and finding that it suits us. Even the hard parts.