Where to go; where to go
One way I dealt with the misery was researching where I would move if I did leave. Too much choice can become its own prison, and I was frozen with indecision. I was free to move anywhere in the U.S. and probably even beyond.
My first thought was upstate New York – that seemed easy enough because I could commute back to the city when and if I wanted. I started spending some time in the Catskills, but it still felt confined to me – not expansive or big enough. I guess 64 square miles didn’t quite cut it.
I ruled out the Hudson Valley because I spent enough time in places like Beacon and Cold Spring to know I didn’t connect with the energy in the area. Also, like, there’s rampant Lyme disease there – 95% of all Lyme disease cases in New York State come from the Hudson Valley. No thank you.
There was a slight flirtation with Asheville, but I never visited because one day I realized I was done with the East Coast. Just done. Too many people; too much stress – at least for me, an empath and HSP (highly sensitive person). I was being pulled elsewhere – but where?
Montana was my next online research adventure. I don’t remember exactly why (I’d only ever been to Missoula for a night and watched an uncontrolled forest fire creeping toward town). I love the Southwest, and I think someone influenced me with their declaration that the Southwest would be out of water in twenty years, so Montana it was.
Well, until I did enough research and realized my heart was screeching with terror more than joy. I mean, there are grizzly bears there – it’s the state animal! I had thought of Bozeman or outside of it in an artsy town called Livingston – I gave up on that when someone mentioned that there are massive winds that blow basically all the time through the town.
Apparently, it’s something to do with air pressure differences and being located in a narrow valley between mountains – the valley acts like an accelerator for air and creates what’s called a gap flow wind (because the air flows between gaps in the mountains). No one seems to care unless it blows more than 60mph – in 1978, wind was clocked at 108mph. I mean, my hair! No thank you.
Boulder – too rich, and it didn’t sit right with me. Next to Boulder is Denver. It’s a city with close to 3 million people, has a major international airport that’s actually bigger than Manhattan, is on the edge of the Rocky mountains – it had things going for it. After a lot of googling, watching YouTube videos, and joining forums and Facebook pages about the place, I ruled it out. Too young, and where I was looking to live seemed similar to where I was coming from, so it didn’t make sense. Average age is around 35. I also read there are major traffic jams getting out of the city on weekends to go into the mountains. And they have smog issues. I didn’t want any more smog or traffic jams in my life.
I had always told friends that if the shit ever hit the fan and society collapsed, I’d make my way to Sedona. I have a rock there (it’s a very, very large rock) called Bell Rock that I call my soul home. For the past 15 – 20 years, I would go out once or so a year and sit on the rock, along with Airport Mesa – both are spiritual vortexes – and recharge my soul. I so, so love Sedona, so it would be natural that I would live there.
Nope. It’s mainly two roads that intersect, and because the place has gotten so popular, there can be massive traffic jams on those two roads. There also aren’t museums, many restaurants, and not enough of what I want in culture – it was too small for me.
New Mexico randomly started popping up on my radar, so I thought maybe the universe was telling me something. I started thinking about Albuquerque (ABQ) or Santa Fe. I was afraid Santa Fe would be too small – and I wasn’t able to find an apartment there when I looked at places online – so I started looking around ABQ. Over half of New Mexico’s population live in the city, and I figured I could pop up to Santa Fe anytime if I wanted to spend time there.
Santa Fe, which means Holy Faith in Spanish, is the New Mexico state capital and has close to 86,000 residents this year (it’s highest number ever); Santa Fe County boasts just over 150,000 residents. ABQ, on the other hand, has over 550,000 while Bernalillo County, where ABQ is located, has over 680,000 citizens. That’s a sizable difference in population, and my thinking was that I’d have a better chance of meeting people in a place where there were more people.
Thank goodness the apartment complex I found in ABQ never returned my calls – it gave me time to think and do more research on both cities. I started watching YouTube videos from tourists visiting the area, and I had a sudden revelation while watching a random person wander through Old Town in ABQ – I might not want to know 500,000 of the folks in ABQ, so the size of the population didn’t actually matter. How many friends can you have?
After my YouTube revelation, I focused back on Santa Fe, soon found an apartment complex under construction and signed the 45-flipping-page lease sight unseen, something not uncommon during the height of covid.
Trust me, I had massive anxiety over deciding where to move and though my thinking about leaving NYC went on for several years, it was a serious ten months or so of intense research and looking before I could decide where and when.
So, Santa Fe it was. Covid in NYC had really taken a toll on me as had the previous 7-10 years, so I packed up my things (okay, the movers did….) and made my way to Santa Fe at the end of 2020.
More to come on the mental anguish, self imposed drama, and signs from the universe about leaving and where I was going.
The Whole Healthy Group Blog covers healthy food, wellness, and spirituality. You can also find Diane’s writing in her newsletter Whole Health Journal on Substack, where this article originated.
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