I had this fragment of a song I wrote years ago floating in my head the other morning. It went: “It’s so hard to believe that any of this is real.” I had the melody too but no other words or even the title. I’m positive I was talking about a political situation of the day, perhaps even one that hasn’t changed very much after all these years. It’s so hard to believe.
But I wasn’t thinking politics when the line merged into my conscious thoughts. Since July I have had a profound personal and cultural shift in my life. They say moving is on the list of top stress producing events and I’m of the mind that it’s true.
I lived in mid-town Manhattan for over thirty years. I walked everywhere except to my girlfriend’s who lived in Astoria. Almost everything I had need for or wanted was right outside my door. The city surrounded me. I was able to observe my neighborhood slip into major changes over the years. New York is famous for change and it often happens while your eyes are wide open.
My story, and I’m sure countless others, has important ties to the economy. I lost my job, my apartment was falling apart from the landlord’s constant neglect and then in the midst of all this my father falls seriously ill. The recession also pulled a major source of income out from under the feet of my girlfriend. New York was becoming an insurmountable roadblock positioned exactly on our checkbooks.
Then my dad died. My mother had passed five years previous. My younger brother before that. Aside from my grown son the ties to the city had now almost completely unraveled. So events seemed aligned to move us into another situation. With the little money I received from my father we decided on the radical departure to Sedona, Arizona.
Now there is a new life, new people and the culture of northern Arizona. Instead of skyscrapers, Sedona boasts its red rocks and they are stunning. And then there is the adjustment to a life with automobiles which were never on the list in New York.
Our checkbooks are still looking for answers but there is the hope and excitement of everything new including possibilities. Now instead of a crowded sidewalk outside the door there is a night sky crowded with stars. It’s so hard to believe that any of this is real.