The place where Mr. Darling and I have spent the first two and a half years of our marriage is the city where I grew up. I've lived here for more than twenty years. (I spent the first five years of my life in a different state, but it barely counts, since my clearest memory from that time is when my older sister and I were at our neighbor's house, and the neighbor was watching a movie, and in the movie, a boy got caught in a net, and it scared me so badly that I ran all the way home. No idea what movie it was, but it obviously made a big impression on me.)
My family lives here. Most of my friends live here. The majority of my fondest memories and awkward moments and formative life experiences took place here. In a lot of ways, that's awesome. In July, I will be a bridesmaid in the wedding of a girl with whom I've been friends since age five. We met a few months before we started kindergarten, and we've been friends ever since. A lot of the girls I spend most of my time with have known me since middle school - smack dab in the middle of my extremely awkward-looking phase (which lasted for at least a decade.) There's something really wonderful about friends who knew you when you were strange and weird looking; who know your whole history, your family secrets, your insecurities, and your stupid high school crushes; friends who don't need explanations of your neuroses and who were by your side through breakups, the death of your grandmother, and when your sister got pregnant in high school. It's comfortable and reassuring to have friends who know your background and who were there while you were becoming you. These girls really know me, and they love me anyway. That's spectacular, and I know I'll be friends with them forever.
The thing is, although Mr. Darling lives here with me, this is my city, not our city. I went to college less than an hour away, so every moment of my formal education - from my first day of kindergarten to my college graduation - took place within a 50 mile radius. Every time I go to the mall, I run into someone who has known me for years. One of my high school classmates works at the pretzel stand. A former grocery store coworker is now the manager of one of the department stores. The good ex's sister works at the jewelry counter in Macy's, his mom visits the same craft stores I do, and his best friend shares my bank branch. My college roommate's brother is a waiter at our favorite restaurant. When we go to the local amusement park, we pass the Ferris Wheel where I had my first kiss at age 13. Every day on my way to work, I pass my junior high school. There's the parking lot where I learned to drive. Right there is the grocery store where I worked for five years in high school and college. Over there is the public fountain my little brother fell into at age four when he was trying to fish out some quarters. Here's where I caught the school bus every morning, and over there is where I went on my first date. There's the football field where I received my high school diploma. This movie theater is where I went to watch Titanic eight times, and it was at that table in this restaurant that I told the bad ex that I was too young to know whether or not I wanted to marry him. This is the street where, at age six, I went from door-to-door selling dandelions for a nickel apiece. This is where I made new friends, and where new friends became old friends; this is where I first fell in love and where I first had my heart broken. The memories will be a part of my life forever, but they're part of who I am, not part of who we are. Most of our friends here have known me for more than a decade and Mr. Darling for just a few years. All of Mr. Darling's memories are 1000 miles away, and for the past few years, he's been living on my turf.
So I'm looking forward to our first house in our new city. To our favorite park, our favorite bakery, and the very first walk down our new street. To meeting people who didn't know just me or just him but who know us. To figuring out together which restaurants are good and which aren't, because I won't have already done the research by getting food poisoning at a local diner when I was on a date with a college boyfriend. To forging our way in a new place where, when I buy bourbon chicken at the mall food court, the guy serving me doesn't say, "Hey, didn't you used to work at the grocery store?" I've loved my life here, and there's something very comfortable about living where everyone knows you, but I'm ready for us to create our new life. I know that I will cry when we move. I know that I'll miss my family and my friends and the place where I grew up. I will always be proud to be from my city, but home is wherever Mr. Darling is, and I'm excited for us to make a brand new start together.
This will be my last "regular" post for a while. Until I've moved and have internet again, I've scheduled the "Tova's Moving Extravaganza" posts that have been written by some great guest bloggers to show up regularly and keep you all entertained. The next time I write in this blog, Mr. Darling and I will have started the next phase of our lives together: he will be a doctor, I will be a doctor's wife, and we'll be living in a brand new city in a state where we don't know anyone. I look forward to telling you all about our new life. Thank you all for joining me on this adventure.