The Road to Providence

What a strange feeling to have an unfamiliar home. To unpack all your worldly belongings in a space you’ve just seen, and call it home. I’ve had this idea I’ve nurtured for a year, plans I’ve made, a picture I once saw from a thousand miles away, and accepted as my future home. I’ve unpacked all the pieces of me as quickly as I could, as if the faster this unfamiliar space becomes adorned with my belongings, the swifter I’ll adjust and become comfortable. That’s not how this works you know, can’t fool a pro – I’ve done this before. Comfort, along with familiarity comes with time, the former is fleeting, the later lingers, mutates, and can remain in some ways even for a lifetime.

The road to Providence has been a long one, both in miles and in time. The real journey began over a year ago when I turned thirty, lost my job, and had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Lucky for me, what I had planned didn’t work out. Was it just a year ago that I started applying to grad school? Just a year ago I couldn’t imagine ever leaving New York. I vaguely remember visiting this place that I’ll soon call home, emotional and lost, completely unaware that in just a year everything would change. I didn’t think I’d be here.

I left St Louis in a storm (literally), anxiously armed with audio books and prepared for the long miles ahead in a car shared with a mother I’ve spent limited time with since my teens, never more than an a couple of hours in a car. We smoothly arrive in Chicago and set out to explore, we walk around Millennium Park, admire the tall buildings, the architecture. I mindlessly walk up to a round, reflective bean statue and catch my own eye, inhaling deeply, I softly smile at anxious mind. How quickly I forget to enjoy the journey, to be present in the moment – in Chicago – not in my image of where I’m going. The image my mind has created of the unknown, the future I’ve yet to experience.

It is dusk in Cleveland as we cross the Hope Memorial Bridge towards the looming brick buildings downtown. An unfamiliar city, vaguely reminiscent of the northeast, decorated with stadiums, old brick industrial buildings, and street art. Musicians implore to the crowds gathering to eat for a few minutes of their attention, the buzz of nightlife is just beginning as we roam the streets of Cleveland at dusk. The childhood image of my mother continues to evolve (surely she has evolved), as I get to know her as an adult, listening to stories of her youth and habitually comparing them to my own.

We meet friends in Chicago, family in Boston – we eat, drink, talk and laugh late into the night. I observe my mom in a different space, a different time, and I love her for who she is, for her life experiences and how different we are. We finally meet Providence, the final destination, a real place, not just an image I’ve created, an obscure plan I’ve been developing from afar. Again, planning and doing are so different. Savoring the beginning, I roam around the regal brick structures of the Brown campus, a space I don’t know, not sure if I belong – this is will change. It isn’t that I’m not afraid and uncertain – my desire to move forward is so much stronger than the fear, so alas – here I am – Providence, Rhode Island.

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