Saturday, September 3, 2011

Where Everybody Knows My Name

I miss Ocean City.

This isn't exactly a recent revelation. I've missed Ocean City pretty much ever since I left.

At first, I was loving the prospect of living somewhere where I could go to the grocery store without bumping into a million familiar faces or swinging by the library without an endless stream of small talk. If an ice cream craving struck at 1 in the morning, I liked the idea that I could zip to the Wawa in pajama pants without the fear of running into someone (or a lot of someones) I knew.

It was all very appealing.

Then, I moved away in the summer of 2010, leaving behind all of the familiar built up over more than two decades. I could go to the grocery store and do my shopping in peace. The library didn't come along with a single conversation. And while my 1 in the morning treks to Wawa don't occur nearly as often in my married life, I'm pretty sure I would be safe if I wore pajama pants. Life, I suppose, is more private. More quiet. And, well... I kind of hate it.

I know it will take time before I find my niche in my new locale. At some point, I'll find a few familiar faces in the crowd once in a while. The thing is, my new area is not like Ocean City. In fact, very few places are like Ocean City. That "everybody knows your name" Cheers kind of thing that Ocean City has? I don't think you're going to find that in too many places.

It's hard to move away from everything you've ever known, and this is all the more true when you worked in an industry like newspapers, where it was your job to be in the know. I knew who owned what business and lived in what house. I knew the gossip - good and bad - and I knew the history. I took it for granted then, but now I've come to realize how much I enjoyed being in the know.

Around here, I get lost if I try to take a shortcut to the mall. Back at my old home, I knew all of the shortcuts. I still haven't found a perfect coffee shop in my new hometown. Back in Ocean City? I knew of one - and plenty of close seconds. I had favorite restaurants and favorite walking paths, favorite quiet places to reflect and pretty routes for when I just needed to get out and drive.

It takes time to fall in love with a new hometown. I've already fallen in love with some aspects. I absolutely love my house. There are some great restaurants. I'm a short train ride away from Philadelphia. I'm slowly coming around, but some days are harder than others.

Because, as it turns out, I left my heart in Ocean City. And wherever my life leads me, a part of me will always miss it.

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