To get this said first of all:
I’m leaving Pennsylvania and moving back to New Jersey.
Okay, start the jokes. Which Exit? You can add a few of your own.
Actually, if you must know, the exit from the Garden State Parkway is Exit 105. It’s the city of Long Branch, and that’s where I’m going.
Regarding dates, I don’t have a chronologically long history with Pennsylvania. I moved into this appalling garden apartment across the Delaware from Jersey on January 3, 2010. I had problems with being in Jersey by then, and even more about the move. As much as I tried to get used to Southeastern Pennsylvania, and as much as I tried to accept it, sometimes things you accept and simply unacceptable.
New Jersey is not Paradise either, “which exit” jokes notwithstanding, but I know where everything is. I have a network of people in Jersey, people I know. I know people in Pennsylvania too, but it’s not the same.
I had some really good days in Pennsylvania, particularly involving the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, but they didn’t compensate for the drawbacks. I can’t say I’ve had nothing but bad days here because I had some really bad days in Jersey as well, but there’s some qualitative differences.
When I got here, or shortly thereafter, my health started to deteriorate. I had diabetes before 2010, but once I got here it began to spiral. Diabetes and combined with podiatric neuropathy have been at me like termites chomping a wooden beam. In other words, my legs and feet are killing me. My balance is a mess. While that’s been somewhat ameliorated via weekly acupuncture sessions, life lived in orthopedic shoes is not my idea of anything I want to accept for long.
When my older son got engaged earlier this year, I had to drive 85 miles each way on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway in a rattletrap car to get to the restaurant in Paramus for the engagement party. And for him to come down here to see me requires all but military tactics to negotiate Route 1 and 130.
The new housing is affordable and intended for old guys like me (I hate the term “senior citizen”). There are grab bars in the tub, and a pull cord to summon help if I become ill or fall. On the two occasions I’ve fallen in the tub, I had to scream for help. Helplessness may be an existential condition of real life, but the fear it brought is an unacceptable consequence of trying to take a shower.
I will have to find new doctors or go back to an old primary care physician. That’s okay. Doctors are everywhere. I will have to have Comcast and Vonage come out here to rewire my phone and internet service. So I will do it.
I will have to transport my cat. He’s okay as long as he knows he’s with me and has his food and me nearby. Cats and dogs are amazingly adaptable. They crave only their human guardians and companions, but become disturbed if they’re separated from them.
Somehow or other, we’ll make out okay.