In July of 2020, I was laid off from my job of 4 years and immediately knew I couldn’t stay in New Hampshire. We had moved from NJ to NH in January of 2018 because I got a promotion through that job. At the time, we were ready for a big change and my boyfriend’s job gave him the go ahead to work from home for the foreseeable future.
Moving to New Hampshire was anything but rainbows and butterflies, I was painfully aware the whole time we were there that our time was limited. My job was really stressful and I knew I couldn’t stay long term, and in order for my boyfriend to continue to move up in his company we’d have to return to NJ at some point.
I loved New Hampshire. Our apartment wasn’t great, but the location was. We were in walking distance and driving distance of so many great places and I just loved the atmosphere. Our time there was cut shorter than I really anticipated, and one of my core memories is sobbing hard in our empty apartment as we left it for the last time.
I talk about New Hampshire a lot and people will ask me, “why didn’t you just stay?”
It makes me think I acted out of panic, which maybe I did a little, but in the end, it’s just not that easy. it just wasn’t easy to make the decision to stay when the job market was better in NJ, when it would be better for my boyfriend’s career to move, when all of our family lived in NJ. I was in the middle of a global pandemic, unemployed, and far from everyone we knew.
We’ve lived back in New Jersey for almost a year now, but it feels like a lifetime because of COVID, having to get a new job, and having things open up again midway through. I don’t regret moving back to NJ, but it does make me sad to think about my life in NH. I try to think about how one day we could live there again, but I’m not sure if it is really possible. One our most recent trip up there, my boyfriend said it was nice that we at least have this special place to go back to. It’s a place we lived together and made memories together and we can always visit. And that’s a much better way to think about it.
5 thoughts on “1 Year After Leaving New Hampshire”
This reminds me a lot of my feelings about Jeromeville. (Note: Jeromeville, the city where the stories on my blog are set, is technically fictional, but it is based on a real place with all the names of streets and buildings slightly changed, for anonymity reasons. So in this post, when I say Jeromeville, I mean the real place that the fictional Jeromeville is based on. Have I told you privately where it is in real life? I forget.)
It was a rough transition for me at first, being 18 with no idea how the world worked. I quickly learned that if I had done my research on Jeromeville before I got there, particularly if I had looked into the city beyond the campus, I probably wouldn’t have gone there. I would have found the blend of intellectuals and hippies who disagree with and ridicule my views unacceptable. However, the longer I was there, it grew on me significantly, to the point that by the time I graduated, I really wanted to stay in Jeromeville forever. The major thing that changed was that I eventually found a niche there. (If you have been following my blog, you saw that in the fictional timeline I just started going to a new church. My niche was that church, and something specific there that I got involved with. I’ll tell those stories in a few months.)
I did not stay in Jeromeville forever. I lost the job I got after I graduated in the spring of 2001, due to being hotheaded and pissing off the wrong people. By then, most of my friends had graduated and moved away, and many of the ones left were graduating that year (they were freshmen when I was a senior). I knew it was time to move away. But I never moved very far… ever since, I’ve always lived within an hour and a half drive of Jeromeville. Currently I’m about a 30-40 minute drive away (or a 2 1/2 hour bike ride, I’ve done that four times).
I’ve thought about moving back, and it always feels like a bad idea. I realized years ago that Jeromeville is a great place for a student, a family, or a hippie, but I’m no longer the first, I’m not yet the second, and I’ll never be the third (despite tie-dye shirts having grown on me in the last decade or so). It’s also very, very, very expensive. But the last time I was job searching, in 2014, I realized something even more important than the cost of living or the unfavorable-to-me political climate: it isn’t so much that I want to live in Jeromeville again, it’s more that I want it to be 1998 again. And it’s not. If I move back to Jeromeville, I’m not going to have a church group for my age, I’m not going to have cool twentysomething friends, and I’m not going to have a group of friends to watch X-Files with every Sunday night. The world has changed so much, and all my friends have grown up and most of them have left.
So here I am, in the next county over. I visit Jeromeville often, for football and basketball games (pre-COVID, although I think football is happening this year), and I have some friends there now who are not connected to the fact that I used to live there. I have a lot of memories there. Sometimes when I’m there with time to kill, I’ll just drive around blasting 90s rock. That’s my special place to go back to (although I go there much more often than you go to New Hampshire, I imagine, probably every couple weeks on average).
LikeLiked by 1 person
This reminds me of how I felt about my college town, too! I never wanted to leave after 4 years there it just felt right to stay or at least stay in the area. But it’s more like a moment in time that I loved than the place itself, although I do stop and visit the campus every time I head down that way! It’s nice to be able to see the places we’ve loved along our life journeys
LikeLiked by 1 person
A moment in time… that’s a perfect way to describe it. With all COVID-related restrictions aside, I feel like I’m at just the right distance where I’m still in the same region as Jeromeville, still somewhat connected to the community, but far enough away that I’m not entirely living in the past.
Of course, sometimes I still wonder if I’m too attached to the past, particularly when plans work out such that I’m in Jeromeville multiple times in the same week, for example. And, this is a separate issue, but I’m without a church right now, I hadn’t been to church in two months before last week, I’ve just been spending Sunday mornings alone at home with my Bible, and I felt like I should at least go to another church, or multiple other churches, temporarily so I’m not alone and disconnected. I thought this would be a good time to visit churches on a temporary basis until my regular church figures out whether or not we’re going to start meeting again, but not necessarily to look for a new church permanently. So last Sunday I went to my old church in Jeromeville. (There were two recent episodes in my blog about character-Greg finding a new church… that’s the one I went to, the one that that new church in the story is based on.) There aren’t many people I still know there after all these years, but there are some, and it was really good to see them, and I enjoyed being there again on both an emotional and spiritual level. I could conceivably keep going there for a few months on a temporary basis, but if I do, I’m going to need to resist the temptation to keep living in the past. I just have to keep remembering it’s temporary. (And I think I’m going to go somewhere else this week, a church closer to home where I know the pastor and his family but it’s mostly older people, because I haven’t seen them in a while.)
LikeLiked by 1 person