My, wasn't that fun? I very much enjoyed reading everyone's responses, and who knew there were so many options in Nashville? I hope y'all realize that you will now have to hang out with me, there. Ha. Suckers. Sorry it took me so long to get back with you, but my mama was visiting all weekend, and we kept staying up late planning our goat farm/writer's circle/arboretum, location TBD.
Those of you just tuning in might not know it, but I am not actually a native Easterner. (Those of you who've met me will laugh heartily at the idea that I could pass. Maybe I can look the part for five minutes, but once I open my mouth, the jig is up.) I was born and raised to the age of sixteen in Wichita, Kansas, and then moved to Norfolk, Virginia. And let me tell you, moving to Norfolk was kind of like moving to another world. Not because Wichita is unfathomably podunky (in some ways yes, in many ways no) but because the local cultures were so very different. I'm glad I had Norfolk and then Charlottesville as intermediate steps before I ended up in Central Jersey and Philadelphia, else my head might have exploded. (Even so it took me several months to figure out that people in Philadelphia weren't yelling at me, they just talked that way.) Obviously I've acclimated just fine, and fit in nicely around these parts (which is part of what makes it weird), but because of my cosmopolitan upbringing (har har har) I don't harbor any reservations about moving to Nashville -- a city, after all, twice the size of where I grew up.*
But tell some city slicker** where you're moving, and the response is usually not, "Oh, wow, how great!" but "...oh. Uh, wow!" And the implied and sometimes stated "...and you're okay with that?" Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am okay with that. Thrilled, actually. I think it's hard on the in-laws though, as they're native New Yorkers and most of the kids are staying close by. Frankly the really hard thing about the move will be going so far away from that part of our family, especially as everybody's starting to have kids. In an alternate world we get to live in Manhattan just a short ways away from everybody else, and the kids grow up playing together. I think about that and get all misty-eyed.
Then I remember that one of our criteria for a livable city is a place where we can get by comfortably on one salary, and poof! No more Manhattan. And honestly, even being in Philadelphia, where it takes forty minutes to get out of the ring of 'burbs and into some open spaces, is a little wearing on me. I love city life, but I think it's time for something different. (Read: I need a yard because I'm too goddamn lazy to walk ALL the way to the park.)
So when I speculate about Jewish life away from the honest-to-goodness wonderland that is the East Coast, know that I do so as a person raised Presbyterian in a town where even the atheists gave at least a familial church affiliation. I do remember my friend Adam Lentz's mother bringing some Passover things to school -- even now the taste of charoset*** reminds me of second grade, and how I'd never tasted anything quite like that. It was haunting. Must have been the wine. (Though the Apple Pie LARA bar comes pretty close.)
Of course I also remember getting into a verbal brawl, walking with the rest of the safety patrol out to the Woodlawn crosswalk -- a girl informed me in a snide tone that Jews don't believe in Jesus, and I told her, "Oh yes they do. They believe he existed, but he wasn't the son of God." Fifth graders are not so much for the religious subtleties, and I'm not even sure from whence I'd gleaned that cockeyed summation (probably my mother, because I know I didn't hear it in church).
Well. I'm meandering into different territory, the where-I-come-from vs. where-I'm-headed territory, and that's a book of blog posts in itself. I will say I'm glad to be moving back to a place where my social instincts are more in tune with the generalized local culture; not that I would ever actually bring a Jell-o salad to a gathering, but it is invariably the first thing that pops into my mind, as much as I've tried to force it out with "bottle of wine!" "six-pack of good beer!" "crusty bread!" At least in the middle third of the country (varying, of course, by what crowd you run with), it might not elicit gasps and discreet vomiting into nearby houseplants.
But Jell-o isn't kosher.**** Problem solved. I'll have to be classy by default.
*Note also that Wichita is the biggest thing around until Kansas City, and that my sisters and I were the "big city kids" to my cousins.
***Whilst perusing the charoset recipes here, I cracked up reading the following verse from Song of Songs: "I went down into the garden of nuts." (SoS 6:11) Heh. I mean, I knew it was the dirty book of the Bible, but that is ridiculous.
****Lilian, you can find Sure-Jell pectin-based gelatin dessert mix at Whole Foods and the Weaver's Way Co-op. I like it better anyway.