“Big Magic” I don’t write my books. Yes, those are my hands typing. Yes, those…
Tea Talk: Homesickness
So, as many of you know, just shy of two years ago, I decided to uproot. Knowing I wanted more land, and also acknowledging I couldn’t afford to buy more land plus the bigger house I wanted in my hometown, I decided the smartest thing to do was move. Not far. Really, just an hour away. North and West, into a more rural area of New Jersey.
Now, my home is lovely.
It as enough space for all of us (for those who don’t know, when this writing thing started to finally take off for me, I chose to move my family in with me. Which meant my parents could retire and my sister wouldn’t have to worry about how to provide for her kids). So as you can imagine with seven people, six dogs, and seven birds, we needed space. And we got space.
The country landscape is beautiful. My home backs up to a farm, we are surrounded by hills, there is nothing but green all around when you drive somewhere.
I also know NOBODY here, so it doesn’t matter if I look like a swamp creature when I run to the store or post office. Which, if you ask me, is a giant perk lol.
I sure thought about all the good when we packed up almost two Julys ago and made this new area our home.
What I guess I hadn’t thought of hard enough was the sacrifices.
There is no bookstore here (where I would lose myself for hours on days off), no Whole Foods (it isn’t always easy to find some of the vegetarian options I want in other stores), no quaint coffee shops to sit in and write, not even a library to sit in and write (I wrote the entirety of several of my older books in the library in my old town.)
See, writing is a hard thing when you do it from home where distractions are all around. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is give your babies a kiss, and take off somewhere else for a few hours. That way, you get all the work done in three or four hours instead of ten or twelve hours at home.
But there is nowhere to do that here.
There is, quite frankly, just not a whole lot around in general.
What stores we do have, usually require a longer drive than I am used to. Or, are off the parkway. And, ha, my anxiety doesn’t like the parkway.
All these factors have led to this feeling of being sort of “housebound.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a homebody in general. I LOVE being home. The idea of traveling gives me hives. Give this girl her simple life with her creature comforts, and she’s a happy camper. But the problem now is, the housebound feeling has triggered agoraphobia the likes of which I haven’t felt since I was a teenager. It’s bad. A five-minute drive to the grocery store is somedays too much for me now. I force it, I try, but that panic sensation is always right there with me.
I also wish that they had some sort of way for you to interview your neighbors before you buy a house lol. Because mine sucks, plain and simple lol. Some of you know this story. I was here for a WEEK when all a sudden, cops are at my door. Because the solar light I had on a fencepost facing the ground (so I didn’t get surprised by bears or coyotes when I let my dogs out at night), was somehow shining in his wife’s second story window. And instead of walking over and talking it out like civil people, he called the cops. Since then, it has been a series of him taunting my dogs by barking or howling at them, so they bark, just so he can then yell at them. He charged down his driveway at my sister when she was taking a walk with her kids because she paused for a few seconds in front of his house. He sits in his garage all night long drinking and saying disturbing things really loudly. I know, I know. He’s just a miserable human being and gets off on making other people miserable. I need to find a way to not let it get to me so much, but, gr, my old neighbors were saints, I tell you, saints lol.
But the most significant factor among all these little regrets is the big one.
Moving away from the rest of my family.
My grandparents, most especially.
We’ve always been close. There was never a week that went by that they didn’t stop over for a few hours to talk. And now, well, we go HOLIDAYS without seeing them. My mom and sister go down to visit sometimes, but someone always has to be here for the dogs and the birds. And that someone is me. In two years, I have been back to my hometown twice. Both times just to do my taxes.
And, well, I miss it. I miss it more than I ever could have imagined. It was the place that inspired an entire UNIVERSE of books. I used to love driving around, having a little smile to myself when I passed a physical place that I fictionalized and put in my stories. I loved how as the town evolved, so did the places in the books. I loved the coffeeshops and the bookstores and Whole Foods lunch dates with my best friend and familiarity and comfort. I miss Holmdel Park and Deep Cut Gardens and the pier in Red Bank and walking on the beach (only in the off-season, of course). I miss the restaurants and stores and the way I knew every side street and back way to get somewhere.
The end goal now is to move back. To find that one book to write that will make a difference, make it possible to do so. I will even sacrifice a little on the land if I have to (which I will likely have to unless I hit the lottery, or get a little taste of EL James’ level of success since anything over a few acres in that area is in the millions lol).
The funny thing is, though, that I always wanted to leave.
My whole life, my most dominant thought was getting out of there, going somewhere new, starting over.
Then I did it.
And regretted it.
My best friend moved around the same time I moved (toward South Jersey as I headed North) and is homesick as well, and when we talked about it once, she said something that stuck with me: We didn’t really want to move. We just wanted more space close to all of our creature comforts.
So that is what I want.
More space, close to all my creature comforts.
Has anyone else moved and regretted it almost instantly? Or was your move the best thing you ever did?