Thursday, April 4, 2013

On to the next great adventure

I was at a dinner party the other night when everyone got talking about how obnoxious people in Massachusetts are. They're pushy, they're rude, they don't hold doors open for you, they have no time for pleasantries. And they honk their horns at almost any occasion. I listened, took it all in, but didn't say anything. Because my experience has been quite different.

I'm sure it has something to do with moving to Massachusetts from the UK, as opposed to, say, from Minnesota, which is surely the nicest state in the US. Brits aren't known for being chatty or friendly.  It's all a matter of perspective.

But the people on the hiking trails here in Massachusetts always say good morning to me. And more. I first saw an owl because someone pointed it out to me. I returned the favor, showing the turtles sunning themselves to some children on the trail.

The librarians share book recommendations with me. In fact, one of my favorite reads this year, Daniel O'Malley's The Rook, came highly recommended by them.

And the teachers at the school where I sub frequently hold the door for me, especially on cold winter mornings as I'm racing to get inside.

And unlike the UK, where I started feeling at home about the time I left, in Massachusetts I've had friends from almost the first day. I've found a welcoming (and challenging!) writing critique group in Amherst. We meet at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (how cool is that?). From that group, I've made individual friends, gone out for coffee, dinner. And I've gotten to know other writer friends I previously only knew online.

I've loved western Massachusetts... I've loved the walking trails, with turtles, owls, and herons. I've also loved the bookish atmosphere, how some of my favorite published authors live around the corner, how I'm constantly stumbling into other writers. I've loved the inspiration of older bookish people, too, like Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. I love that every time I see a birch tree, I find myself thinking what it means to be a swinger of birches.  

Why am I telling you all this?

You've probably already guessed.

Yes, I'm moving again.

I've known for a while it might be a possibility, but it was only made official a few weeks ago. My husband's job will be migrating to Duke University, so we'll be making a new home in Durham, North Carolina. I hear there are plenty of beautiful places, state parks, beaches, and mountains to explore. I imagine the food will be better. The weather certainly will be, except that I've always loved snowy winters. The Research Triangle area is intellectual, academic. But will it be bookish?

As you can tell, there's some deep reservations. But I'm trying to be hopeful, too. Who knows what's in store with this next adventure? Besides a lot of packing!

And I think a few of my readers live a bit further South. Right? Any future neighbors out there?!


  1. This is one of those weird coincidences. I just found your blog yesterday, and as I was reading this post I kept thinking, wouldn't it be funny if she was moving to North Carolina. I've lived in NC basically my whole life, grew up in Charlotte, went to school at UNC-Chapel Hill, and then lived in Durham for a year after graduating. I'm actually doing the opposite of you and moving up north to NYC shortly, but I can tell you that Durham and the Research Triangle Park (RTP as all the cool kids call it) are great places to live. I think they're pretty bookish too. There are quite a few independent bookstores and a couple Barnes and Nobles, and while I didn't spend much time in libraries (I have a book-hoarding problem and hate giving books back to anyone or anyplace) I hear they are very good. I will say that, in my opinion, Durham is a little less bookish than Chapel Hill or Raleigh, Flyleaf Books and Quail Ridge Books & Music had a lot more author events than the Durham bookstores, but they're all pretty good and they're all within decent driving distance. The publisher Algonquin Books (where I interned for a year) is also in Chapel Hill and is full of great people. There are a few writers in the area, usually associated either with Duke or UNC and quite a few great writers come through Algonquin. The people are endlessly friendly, it's beautiful and has great weather, even has a couple snow dustings most winters. And Durham specifically has great places to eat and is really cleaned up and coming into its own as a city. I think and hope you'll love it down there and best of luck with the move!

    1. That is really weird! But I'm so glad we discovered each other, and thank you for taking the time to reply. And thanks also for the NC reassurances. Something about just hearing bookstore names is music to my ears!

  2. Good luck with your move! It's always difficult to leave familiar surrounds, but try to think about the new friends you will make in NC. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Ann, and thanks for helping me to try and think positive thoughts!

  3. Oh, no. Again...
    What a trooper your are.

    I agree Ann, with your assessment of people in western Massachusetts. And a lot of our perception is a choice, so here's to your good choices!

    I have no personal knowledge of the American South and its people beyond my recent trip to SC and some other trips too long ago. But I am told by friends that southerners are friendly, and well, Duke is gorgeous.
    And you are gathering some serious material for your books!

    1. Aw, thanks, Mirka. Good to share this news with friends who totally get it. But as I've come to realize over the years, usually in life we don't get a choice to be a trooper. Life just thrusts its difficulties upon us and we need to troop through them. Thankfully I have gotten some pretty thick soles over the years, though. Now this metaphor is getting WAY too complicated, so I'm going to start a new paragraph! ;)

      And yes, I recently realized that my current wip is really about moving from the UK to the US. Who knows what material this new move will bring me! Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Wow! What news! Congratulations though. My grandparents were in North Carolina all their lives on both sides so I'm bias to the state. Very lovely.

  5. Loved reading this, Anne - and my very best wishes for your move. I think you will find lovely people wherever you live: it's more about the way YOU are: friendly and open and kind. I so enjoyed our brief afternoon together in Boston recently. (And I hope you did find some friendly faces in the UK, especially on the MA!).

  6. Sounds like you've had a wonderful if brief time in your new (soon to be old) home. Happy trails! (Some of us are friendlier than others over here in the UK)

  7. Good luck! Some of us Brits try and be friendly!

  8. I should clarify: lots of lovely and friendly Brits! *Anne looks over shoulder nervously* Seriously, you were and are so lovely, as you've just proved. Only, I wouldn't call the Brits as a whole effusive, you know?

    Julia: So nice to see you stop by, and thank you for all the kind wishes.

    Candy: It has been a wonderful time, and hard to leave when a place suits you so well. But yes, let's hope for some happy trails!

    Keren: Thanks!

  9. Oh, wow, Anne, it seems like you just got here, and already you're moving on. I can't even imagine. I am a very stay-in-one-place kind of girl. But it sounds like you are good with change. I'm glad your time in Massachusetts was a positive experience =)


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