How to feel at home in a new city
Last month, I celebrated five years of living in Atlanta. As the daughter of a sailor, and a natural wanderer myself, staying anywhere for this long has been a big challenge for me.
Every two years, for as long as I can remember, I have felt the urge to go. To a new city, a new job, new school, new friends. The fresh start sounds so appealing, the opportunities and possibilities so big, so new.
But if you don’t work for the military, if you’re not a Salvation Army officer, packing up and leaving every time you hear the call to go, isn’t always feasible.
So, five years later, I’m still here and I’m learning that there’s something to be said for staying too.
Here are four perks to staying put long enough to make yourself at home in a new city:
1. Knowing others, and being known
Some people forge deep friendships quickly, and build bonds based on vulnerability, openness and trust within just a couple of years, but there’s a deeper intimacy that comes with the passage of time. When you stay through many seasons of life, you experience hardship and joy, change and stagnation together. Time also loosens the veil, allowing our flaws and failures to show along with our successes.
2. Seeing the fruits of your efforts
When you invest in your work or in other people, often that effort doesn’t yield a fruit for many years. When I first moved here, I started volunteering to teach the Moonbeams class at my corps, and now, the students I taught that first year are starting 4th and 5th grade.
3. Investing in neighborhoods, counties and towns
Long-term residents have more incentive, and opportunity, to advocate for positive changes in their neighborhoods and communities. They know more about the local government, businesses and are able to advocate for changes they hope to one day benefit from, like more parks and wider bike lanes.
4. Living with memories
Every day on my way home from work, I pass by the first apartment I lived in when I moved to this city. I see the coffee shop I used to walk to, the park I used to jog in, the restaurant I used to frequent with close friends who have since moved away. Every part of town has memories like these and I don’t need to go through a photo box to remember older versions of me, I can see her everywhere. I see her and I remember who I am and how I got here, I can imagine who I might soon be.
Maybe this generation, more likely to move away from home, and frequently, than our parents’, could learn a few things from lingering a little longer, sticking closer by to older versions of the people we used to be.