Monday, August 8, 2011
Back in May I had my last official day at work. I never dreamed, when we moved to New York five years ago, that I’d ever work at a library. And I never expected to love it so much. But that’s how life goes. The story of your existence moves forward and chapters are added that have twists and turns you could never have imagined.
But on this particular Thursday, I was very aware that my routine was about to change. I stopped off at Stewarts on my way in, like I had so many mornings before. I swung into the parking spot that is so familiar. I’ve parked there hundreds of times in the past five years. When I came around the corner, the front door was held open for me by a friendly construction worker, as it often is when I’m stopping by for our almost daily gallon of milk.
I looked around this place that has become so much a part of my everyday life. My neighbor works behind the counter and never fails to ask me how Sam is doing. The other clerks are just as friendly. They always seem to have smiles to spare and I’ve seen them more than once go out of their way to help a an elderly customer. On chaotic free ice cream days, when they have a pretty valid excuse to be crabby, they always seem to be as excited as the kids who are asking for cones.
On that Thursday in May it occurred to me that I’m not only leaving behind friends and family, when we move to Colorado next month. I’m also leaving behind my neighborhood, the things that bring me a quality of life I’ve come to appreciate. As a person who’s moved many times in the past decade, I know firsthand how precious these basics in life are. It takes a while to build up a pattern and rhythm, when you move to a new place.
I left that Stewarts, the one I consider my own personal convenience store, and headed off to work that day. And as I went to open the front doors of the library I saw a familiar face. The same construction worker who’d held the door for me was now taking a minute to drop off his overdue book. This time I held the door for him.
I will never take for granted the web of comfort we’ve woven here in New York. It takes some time to find a good doctor and dentist, but it also takes time to find a good hair dresser and a good mechanic. I don’t think we’ll ever find a doctor we love as much as Dr. Karen (and her nurses) and Dr. Dong has done a great job of keeping my family’s teeth cavity free, in her efficient, friendly way.
I will miss my hairdresser, Lisa, who is one of the few people I’ve ever known who actually cut my hair the way I wanted, not the way she thought it should be. She is a great conversationalist and an even better hair dresser. I will be searching high and low in Colorado, to find someone who can match her standard.
And as I tell my daughter, the most valuable man you can marry is an electrician, a plumber or a mechanic. I lucked into finding my ‘car guy’, Norm. I always knew he’d never charge me for work that didn’t need to be done, and I’ve been suspicious that he’s undercharged me for work that was valid. I’m leaving him in charge of watching over my daughter’s car, as she stays behind to live here in New York. I always tell her, “If Norm says something’s wrong with it, something’s wrong with it!” It gives me peace of mind to know Norm will be looking out for her.
I discovered the magic of a transfer station in our years in New York. The guys who work there are my first go to guys when I need advice about who to call for products and services. They know who does the best work in every category imaginable and their friendly banter made going to drop off trash one of the fun things on my to do list.
I’ll also forever be grateful for George, my trusty oil guy. This state was my first experience with home heating oil and George not only answered all my questions with patience, I always knew he’d give me the best price he could on the oil he delivered.
As much as I think I’m unique and different, I have to admit the old saying is true - we are all just creatures of habit. We tend to shop at the same stores every week, and buy our gas at the same pumps when the gauge says empty. I’ve filled up more milk club cards than you’d ever believe and racked up gas points for being a ‘chopper shopper’. I will not miss the never ending commercials for Huck Finns Warehouse or the round man in the untucked shirts yelling “HUUGE!” through my television. But it’s all become a part of my life.
My daily routine will be different in Colorado. Just by the nature of living in a mountain town, the everyday habits I create will be unique to that climate. We’ll explore different areas on the weekends, but I’ll also have to get used to which gas stations have the best prices on gas and milk.
I’ve come to love the routine I’ve found in New York. It’s consistency gave me comfort. But it’s time to make a new routine and carve out a new life. Eventually I’ll find another ‘Lisa’ and another ‘Norm’. But I’ll never forget the ones I left behind.
I’ll always appreciate the cast of characters that made my five years in New York unique and special, just in the routine ways they did their jobs so well.