A year ago, I was on the cusp. My life was a flurry of packing tape, U-Haul contracts, and ‘downsizing,’ since I was flying my self-made Tuscaloosa nest. I had just accepted a job offer as a copywriter for a bank, I was looking for places to live in the ‘greater Boston area’ just like I’d always dreamed, and I had finally gotten the hang of the whole ‘being-a-mom-while-retaining-a-personal-identity’ balancing act. The world was my New England oyster, and I had stars in my eyes and butterflies in my belly.
And, unbeknownst to me, also another baby in there.
Now, a year later, I’m waist-deep in packing tape and moving boxes again because Orie and I have decided to do the ‘adult’ thing and not go deeply into debt to maintain a decent lifestyle up here on only one income. When we got here, we had two jobs and one kid. Now, we’ve got two kids and one job. Compound that with New Hampshire’s notoriously inflated housing & daycare prices and you end up with the ‘why’ behind our living in a spider-infested rat castle in the middle of Deer Tick Central.
It took about fifteen minutes of soul-searching to agree that we didn’t want to live in a ramshackle bungalow that lacked reliable plumbing or a garage, when we could instead move back closer to home to live in a real house with non-blood-flavored tap water and a dishwasher. The ‘closer to home thing’ was a boon, too, since now we have this unexpected brand new baby that everyone wants to meet and I, for one, cannot wait to capitalize on their excitement so I can experience silence again.
And yet the more people I tell about this move, the more I receive expressions creased up in sympathy and responses like ‘yeah, not everyone can hack it up here’ or ‘being on your own is difficult.’ It’s patronizing, and aggravating, and I figured I’d go ahead and answer the most frequently asked questions when it comes to my move just to save everyone some time.
- No, it’s not because of the snow.
- No, it’s not because of the liberals. They’re actually why we came up here. Don’t tell my dad.
- No, it’s not because we can’t ‘hack it’. New England is not some wild, mystical enigma that is that different from the rest of the America. It’s just colder, more expensive, and people get confused when you strike up conversations for no reason. Which, fair enough. I shouldn’t’ve talked to you when you were at that CoinStar, I just really liked your shoes.
- No, it’s not because it’s too far from my mom. That was a weird thing to say. I’m an adult, come on. … But I don’t wanna hear a word when the first thing I do when I get to the South is go and see my mama.
- Yes, it is a little bit because yall don’t have Chikfilas. I don’t feel I can be blamed for that one.
- No, it’s not because of the spiders. Spiders don’t scare me. Not after spending countless summers in my grandparents’ Mississippi house and having to run shrieking from finger-sized flying cockroaches.
- No, it’s not because of the job market. I’m a copywriter. It was a miracle I got a job here in the first place, I don’t think I’m gonna fare much better down South. (On a totally unrelated note, let me know if you have any copy writing or editing needs.)
- Yes, it is because of the cost of living. Yes, I have looked on craigslist. No, our situations aren’t comparable, since you are a single human being who can squeeze into a subletted bedroom for $700 a month. For some reason those same subleases tend to ignore my emails when I inquire about cramming my family of four into one. Yes, I am aware that it’s my own fault that I had two kids. I’m not any happier about it than you are.
- No, it’s not because of the mandatory vehicle inspections, though for a state whose motto is ‘live free or die,’ you sure aren’t letting me do either with those damn inspections.
- … No, it’s not because of the snow.