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?!