The Farewell Tour

Autumn 2013 049aSo weird to say this. I never really set out to make Albany (actually, Albany semi-adjacent) my home. It just happened. Grew up in Scotia, lived 11 or so years in Syracuse, landed a job in Albany, and 24 years went by. We bought our house in the Grönen Bosch in 1991, reared our kids here, were very happy here, but with our younger one finishing high school, we were thinking about a move somewhere else in the area. The job situation was unstable at best, and suddenly an opportunity arose to become much more stable and remove myself from the vagaries of political winds. But after years of dismissing offers to move to NYC and Boston out of hand, we suddenly found ourselves deciding to move to Philadelphia. Western suburbs, most likely. Valley Forge-ish; I hear the winters are delightful.

Just like our last big move, we’re not going to do it all at once. I will act as scout and ensure the area is free of both Indians and Quakers before finding a new homestead and moving my spouse; both children will be safely esconced in pricey Eastern colleges by then, and unable to prevent us from tossing their precious comic books and Matchbox collections. If they had such things.

As a result, I’m on a bit of a weird farewell tour, driving and biking to places and realizing it may be the last time I get to see them for some time. I’m probably not going to be able to climb up to Dutch Church again before I go, and our recent visit to the mummies was probably the last time I’ll see the Albany Institute for a bit. While I’m glad to see progress being made, I’m a bit miffed that the Black Bridge, the key to biking to Cohoes without having to try to cross a six-lane highway where the lights won’t change for bicycles, is finally open now that I will almost never need it. (And actually, I’ve used it three times so far this week, just out of spite.) I had the sense that these may be my last visits to the Waterford visitors center, where I like to rest my legs and sometimes talk to the boat people. I even visited my father’s grave, a location that doesn’t carry much emotional weight with me, and realized it may be a while before I’m back. Other things are done without a chance for farewell: ice skating at the Plaza after work, for instance. The lesson in all this, of course, is to take your chances while you can, because something may change and you’ll never have the chance again.

It’s a weird thing to have to prepare to become unattached to a place, when not only you and your children but your parents and generations of ancestors have had some connection to it. My family in Albany and Schenectady goes back to the Norman for whom they named the kill, and even though I don’t come from the kind of family where that kind of history was handed down, that sense of place resonates deeply with me, and I’m oddly emotionally connected to the history of this area.

But perhaps even weirder is that I feel perfectly prepared to become attached to a new place. Quite where that will be, we don’t know yet, but living in this age of the internet, it’s amazing what a sense of place you can get without leaving your wifi connection. Between Twitter feeds and StreetView, the world is a very small place indeed.

So all this will go on. This blog may become a little more frequent, if only to make “winter in Valley Forge” jokes, because the uncertainty that has been hanging over me for a very long time now is gone, and I feel more free to write about what’s going on in my life. Hoxsie! will continue — obviously I can’t stop writing about the Capital District’s amazing history just because I won’t be here anymore. It may become a tad less reliable as the actual work piles up, but be assured it will continue.

But here is the truth of nostalgia. We don’t feel it for who we were, but who we weren’t. We feel it for all the possibilities that were open to us, but that we didn’t take.

     — Welcome to Night Vale

2 thoughts on “The Farewell Tour

  1. jericwrites

    I know EXACTLY how this all feels . . . Des Moines was as weird and unexpected for us as Philly will be for you and yours, and that last month of Hidden in Suburbia rides was pretty melancholy ( as I waved to things that I did not expect to ever see again.
    But it has worked out extraordinarily well for all three of us (with some bumps, but that’s to be expected) . . . and my continued association with American Institute for Economic Research gets me back through ALB airport at least two or three times per year, so I have appreciated the chance to occasionally catch up with friends or check things out that I’ve missed. I have only driven by our old house once, though . . . and I don’t think I will do so again.
    I tend to be very digital in the sense that I respond to things in an ALL or a NONE fashion . . . so when we came out here, I really focused on all of the good things about coming to Iowa (and they are plentiful), while focusing on all of the bad things that I was happy to leave behind in Albany. Part of the reason that I put Indie Moines on quiet for awhile for to adjust that mental paradigm . . . Iowa and Albany are both great places, in their own ways. I know this seems obvious, but it took me some time to get into that head space, and I didn’t feel like working through that in public on my blog!
    All best to you and yours in the new digs . . . it’s a big adventure, but I know you’re up to that, and look forward to reading about “Your Urban Life” in Philly!

  2. Carl

    Thanks . . . I figured you’d know how it feels. Good advice on what to focus on, as well. I’m finding the prospect of figuring out WHERE to live more than a little daunting, and the first step is finding a temporary base (apartment) down here, which is reminding me of just how much I’m not suited for apartment living, and even less for apartment hunting.

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