Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Eddings Tide

I was as surprised as anyone when I heard of Amy Eddings', host of WNYC radio, departure from New York City. Not because her decision was shocking, or even that she has chosen to leave the number one public radio station in the nation, but because, and I sense I am not alone in this, she is moving to Ohio. Anyone who has heard my road traveling stories knows well enough that I'm not sweet on Ohio (although they do have the best rest stops between New York and Wisconsin) and I thought, good lord, what will she do there? Where is this Ada? Parents passing, or have already passed? Going home? What?! This morning I decided to discover why and what I found is that there is no one to tell it, but her.

I met Amy once when her program asked me to come up to the station to explain the difference between pea shoots and pea sprouts and concoct a recipe to share with their listeners. A minor connection, really, yet in reading through some of her blog posts I see that her reasons for leaving WNYC and New York City are, at least in general ways, quite like our own. We share (or, maybe I share it with her husband, as we both moved to the home regions of our wives) that sense of insecure longing for some thing or event that validates our decision as the right one. Inescapable to any creative leaving NYC is the thought that they are leaving the game, maybe their ambition has melted away and are putting themselves out to pasture. Yet, what grips my thinking, now, not quite four weeks after arriving, is not what I have lost by leaving NYC, but what I have gained, and how remarkably privileged we are for being able to do so.

NYC can shield our privilege behind crumby buildings, raucous neighbors, dirty streets, and low-paid work that is largely chosen, not inherited. In the context of that great city our income, our utter lack of savings, retirement planning, or insurance made us feel poor, but truly we are rich in the context of the poor. Outside of that city we shed that shielding skin and with considerably less conflict than if we had sold off our far away inheritance to make the best of someone's misfortune, a crumbling house in the gentrifying edge of a community about to be displaced.

So we are now suddenly landowners, suddenly landowner-neighbors, taxpayers, insurance payers, and so on with more house and land than we can justify, or feel completely comfortable with, in a region of homogeneous ethnicity and income. Despite any misgivings, we intend to make the most of ourselves and new home, with hope that we can find an income stream that allows us to stay here, in the upper midwest, or what I prefer to call the northern tier, or north woods, or some such descriptor that doesn't exact such dismal recompense, and continue our creative industriousness.

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