It’s officially Fall, and that’s a big deal in the North East. The fact that this is a much bigger deal in the North East than in nearly every other part of the country puts me into a bit of a frenzy. The rapidly cooling temperatures, subtle changes in colors of trees, and excitement of football, sweaters, and Halloween remind me of how real our move to Arizona is. While I sit in my sweatshirt and yoga pants in 60 degree weather confirming online that the temperature in Arizona is currently 88 degrees, I’m reminded of how different things are going to be in the South West. These reminders fill me to the brim with nostalgia, panic, and excitement all at once. So how do I deal with these emotions? The same way I deal with every other part of life: lists!
Something that keeps jumping out in my memory is a conversation I had with our best friend before he moved to Alaska. A few weeks before he left I asked how he was dealing with the preparation to move across the country while working crazy hours and trying to see everyone he knows. He told me that as the time grew closer he felt more and more like he absolutely had to do all the things there were to do in the Lehigh Valley before he left. In and attempt to ease his anxiety over having to do all of the things, I reminded him that he could always come back to continue his to do list. Well I’m here to tell you, ridiculously unobtainable bucket list in hand, that this is not how “move to a completely different location with none of your friends and family, after 20 something years of living in the same place” brain works. No, this particular brain state can only process extreme thoughts and emotions like “YOU MUST COMPLETE ALL THINGS AND SEE ALL PEOPLE AND PLACES IN THREE MONTHS!” So now I sit with one very very long bucket list of things to do in the next three months, and one “list” with a single item on it of things to be excited for at this time of year in Arizona. These lists are where things get complicated, and those complications are the reason I feel this post is necessary.
Americans don’t have a real singular word for the emotion that drives us to Arizona. Longing, wanderlust, nostalgia (for something I have never had), and restlessness are words that can only hit the tip of the iceberg. The fiery drive and discontent has been something within me for as long as I can remember. The sadness and feeling of missing something, just something, is one that I could never put into place. Other languages have words much closer to this feeling. In Portuguese the word “saudade” is used to describe this feeling. While it is difficult to translate, and I don’t by any means speak Portuguese, my best understanding is that this word describes a feeling of absence. The feeling may be both happy and sad at the same time, but what is being longed for is not with the person.
Friends, family, and people I hardly know ask why we would want to leave everyone and everything we have behind. It’s a feeling that can’t be fully explained with words, but it’s an overwhelming desire or longing that we know can only be satisfied by getting away. My Lehigh Valley bucket list is longer because my ties to this place are ones that can be put into words, but my list of reasons to leave is stronger and more complicated than words can describe. Those closest to us can see and feel this need from within us. They understand how hard this decision was to make, and they know that we will miss them, but they can also tell without us even having to speak that this is something we need. We need to make this move, because for the first time in my life, a list can’t help ease my mind or aid me with what I need.