Columbus Day: Thoughts on moving to a new place
So, I've recently moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, after living in Atlanta, Georgia, for twenty-eight years. My, how the time flies. I remember moving to Atlanta oh so long ago, and remember all the things I had to do to set up house there.
First, find a place to live. Then find out the details about turning on the utilities - gas and water and electricity and telephone - and discovering that one had to be at home for long periods of time for the service person to be able to access the whatever they needed to access. A certain amount of time had to be set aside for standing in lines or being on hold on the telephone regarding these activities.
Then figure out what's in the neighborhood and where the bank and grocery store and gas stations are. And the "antique" stores where second hand furniture and art and kitchen items with personality might be picked up for not too much money.
And meet the neighbors.
And of course, at the same time, settle into a new job.
A few things have changed this time around. For one thing, I haven't had to stay home to wait for something to be turned on (although I am waiting today - a holiday - for the FedEx delivery of my modem). Nearly everything could be done by phone or on the web without my personal presence required at either end of the transaction. For another, no telephone (I have an office phone and a cell already) at home.
But most of them are the same. The frustration of having to prove one's employment status/financial worthiness to get services I've taken for granted for thirty years; the trying to memorize the map of the area and learning the short-cuts and scenic routes, often by accident; the excitement and curiosity about all the new things; the sudden desire to buy lots of new things for the new nest; the new delights and the realization of things to be missed about the old place. The feeling slightly overwhelmed at the sheer volume of new people and faces and names to learn, new neighborhood, new customs, new everything. The gratitude towards those who offer patient explanations and warm welcomes of all sorts - gratitude for being, for the most part, surrounded with support.
And did I mention the new job? A whole 'nother category of new everything!
All of this makes me think about those who do not have jobs, who do not have the means to prove themselves worthy of getting the electricity or the gas turned on, who do not have the support of their neighbors and/or community. How hard, how demoralizing, how de-personalizing these kinds of tasks must be for them.
Today is the celebration of Columbus Day. Of course, we now acknowledge that Christopher Columbus didn't "discover" America in 1492 (there were people already here who already knew about it), and the holiday is used by different groups in different places in different ways. One of those ways is to recognize the value and importance of someone from another country in the history of our country.
So as I wait for the FedEx delivery person to arrive, I give thanks for people who have made my moving easier and I empathize with those for whom the details of moving are demoralizing and I remember that ours is a country filled with people who originally came from somewhere else.