Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

No, the title of this post does not refer to the Grace Paley collection of short stories, I’m afraid; the enormous changes I mention are not fictional at all, but very real, and they are changes that will massively affect my life, and this blog, too, as a consequence. They are very exciting changes, rest assured, and ones I have been planning and hoping for, for a very long time. They are the culmination of a years’ worth of fervent dreaming, and I could almost cry with the happiness of having my dreams come true at long last.

A few years ago, however, this wouldn’t be the case. I used to be terrified of change. I resisted it with all my might. I liked things to stay the same; to know exactly what I was doing and where I was going and what I had to look forward to. I enjoyed the routine of my school days; of timetables and bells and order and neatness. Every day was planned in advance; there was nothing to be afraid of, nothing to worry about, nothing to threaten or disturb the quiet normality of my life. I grew up in what I now consider to be a depressingly ordinary London suburb, but at the time, it represented safety, familiarity, and reliability to me. I lived in the same house from the age of two to eighteen; one of those ubiquitous early 1930’s semis that so define British suburbia, with a neatly fenced in front and back garden, light filled rooms with art deco tiled fireplaces and beige carpet, and a bedroom all of my own that looked out onto the busy artery of my particular suburb below, always thronged with people and cars and buses and life.

I loved that house. I loved every corner of it. It was more than just a house to me; it was a part of the very fibre of my identity. It was where my memories lived, where the halcyon days of my carefree childhood had been spent, where my family and I had been so happy. Our lives seemed, to me, to have seeped into the very walls of that house, becoming just as much a part of it as the bricks it was built from. That it could even exist without us to live within it seemed absurd. Leaving it was an impossible cruelty I could never bear to contemplate; I think part of me believed I would always live there, in that sunny house where every room was filled with memory. I cried for a week when it was sold to another family just after I graduated at 21, and I still can’t drive past it without a lump in my throat and tears pricking my eyes. Saying goodbye to that house, was, for me, a metaphorical goodbye to my childhood, to my adolescence, and to everything I had been, and dreamed of being, within my first 21 years. It wasn’t the first big change of my life, and nor was it the first loss, but that house was my anchor, and without it, I felt cast adrift.

However, life moved on and within the space of a month I left university, said goodbye to the only home I had ever known, moved in to a house with four strangers, and started my first job. Change came for me like several slaps in the face. It was an intensely difficult period, but also a wonderfully liberating one. Everything I had ever feared happened to me all at once, and I realised that not only could I cope, but I could enjoy it, too. With my anchor gone, I had set sail on a vast ocean of opportunity, and instead of curling up in a ball and praying for dry land, I was soaring on the wind. The job turned out not to be scary at all, but a fantastic opportunity for me to develop my self confidence, learn new skills, and make dear friends who remain among the most important people in my life. Moving in with strangers turned out to be the best decision I ever made; it taught me patience, tolerance, true independence, and gave me a whole new social life. Most of the girls I lived with are now my best friends, and I wouldn’t have missed getting to meet them and live with them for the world, even if it was a nightmare of hormones and unwashed dishes at times! This period of change and flux and severing of ties that bound me to every sense of security that I held dear finally taught me that change is not something to be feared. Yes, change means that you leave people and places behind, but you need to leave things behind you in order to move forward, and embrace new challenges and new places and new people. In doing so, you add more layers of richness to your life; more friendships, more experiences, more wisdom, more memories, and your heart grows bigger to accomodate them all. Change is a good thing.

Since those heady days my life has changed in even more ways; I have a different job, I have moved twice, I have taken up new hobbies, made new friends, said goodbye to other friends, grown older and hopefully wiser, and generally begun to embrace the ebb and flow of opportunity and adaptation that comes with adulthood. Life cannot, and should not, stay the same forever. I know now that I wouldn’t want it to. That, I suppose, is growing up.

So, what of the enormous changes I refer to? Well, once again I am changing my job, and living arrangements, all in one go. But this time, it’s on a much bigger scale. I’m moving to New York. An ocean away from everyone and everything I hold dear. It’s terrifying, but also the most exciting, thrilling, liberating, wonderful thing that I have yet done. On September 5th, I’ll be flying out to begin a new life in a new city, and I hope you will all come along with me on this new adventure! Oh, and if you’re reading, and live in New York, and want to be my friend when I arrive…please do send me an email!!!

91 comments

  1. And you’ll be in the same city as The Strand Bookshop! It’s Hay-on-Wye under one roof! Bravo (Brava?) for your new adventures.

    1. Thank you Virginia! Yes, I am so excited about having The Strand Bookshop on my doorstep – I won’t be able to take many (if any at all) books with me, so I shall have to build up a new collection when I arrive!

    1. Thank you Sara! No – I’m only taking a couple of suitcases with me, so my books will be stored at my mum’s. Sad but a chance to start afresh, with no guilt inducing TBR piles!

  2. YAY! Change is indeed a VERY good thing – I have just discovered this but on a smaller scale as Oxford really isn’t that far from London!
    At the end of this year – it will be funny to think how we both started it – won’t it?!
    So exciting – you will have so many adventures.
    x

    1. Yes it is! Amazing to think that just a few weeks ago we were making tea in the kitchen at the V&A and now look at us! We have gone for our dreams at last!

      Every day will be an adventure as I discover more about New Yoik – can’t wait for you to come and visit me! x

  3. What an exciting and overwhelming adventure you are on, Rachel! Wow! Congratulations!

    Yes, yes, and yes again. I’m in for the ride as we follow you, and surely some of your books, across the great ocean we all fondly refer to as “the pond” between Great Britain and the USA.

    A brave and wondrous adventure as you continue to move forward with your life. You know, from the moment we are born, I think we begin to slowly move away in one way or another, big steps or small, from our childhood. We thought our life was all in an order, our girls off on their own and settling into adulthood, our house and our neighborhood so familiar, when, BAM, an opportunity opened up and our lives were turned upside down as we moved into this house and acreage and change and it has awakened all sorts of new feelings and adventures and opportunities for me that I never would have imagined. All that to say, I understand what you are feeling and am proud of you for daring to be brave and move forth.

    Congratulations, Rachel!

    1. Thank you Penny! You are so lovely. Your enthusiasm is greatly appreciated – I am glad to have you along with me on the ride!

      Yes, and part of the joy of life is those unexpected turns in the road, that turn things upside down, but in doing so, make our lives so much more exciting. Change brings a freshness I couldn’t do without; my feet seem to get ever itchier these days! Thank you – moving on is scary but in my experience the pain of what I have left behind is always superseded by the joy of what I am running into, and I have to remember that as I take this new plunge!

  4. Congratulations on the move. Since you are looking forward and excited about the change it will work out wonderfully for you.

    I can feel what you say about the house – it brought back memories of our first home – it was 1983 and the racial riots put an end to my ever going back to live there as it was not considered safe… Its 27 years now and I have still not gone back to the area!!!!!

    All the very very best to you.

    1. Thank you Mystica!

      I’m sorry you too have had to leave a home you loved. It’s not a pleasant experience. But all part of life, I suppose.

      Thank you very much – I look forward to blogging about all of my experiences!

  5. This is so exciting. What an adventure you have in store for yourself. I am sure you will meet many wonderful people once you settle into your new locale, and in NYC you will have everything you’ll ever need close by. Enjoy the journey; I wish you the best!

  6. I started reading thinking ‘oh, I can’t wait, I’ve got that book on my shelf and others always seem to get in the way of it,’ but no, it wasn’t a book at all! Moving across an ocean to begin life in a new country is a tremendous change, frightening and thrilling all at once. Behind you all the way Rachel! Can’t wait to read of your trials and wondrous discoveries.

    1. I’m sorry to have disappointed you Heather! I’m sure I’ll read the book at some point! Thank you so much – frightening and thrilling it is indeed but I can’t wait all the same! I’m glad to have all this support and enthusiasm behind me!

  7. Good luck on your move, and congratulations on the new job! New York is an exciting place to be, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    I was very struck by the way you wrote about your home. I blog about historic architecture, among other things, and I was wondering if you would mind me posting a link to your description, or even quoting that part of the post full out. It would work very well into a post I’ve been planning for awhile, talking about how we identify ourselves by our homes. Please drop me an e-mail or a note on my blog if you would consent!

    In the meantime, I also wanted to share this with you….it’s a song that’s been playing on American country stations recently. It’s called The House that Built Me, and it speaks to the same sentiment you expressed. http://www.metrolyrics.com/the-house-that-built-me-lyrics-miranda-lambert.html

    Oh, and be sure to check out the Russian food out in Brighton Beach – so good!

    Best-
    Val

    1. Thank you Val! I’m sure I will too!

      Of course you may – I’ll send you an email.

      Thank you so much for the song lyrics – I just listened to it and it’s a beautiful song!

  8. Congrats–what exciting news! You’ll have to share more details–do you already have a job lined up? A place to stay? I’m sure there are book bloggers in NY or close by that will be more than happy to help you ease your way in to a new life. I’m looking forward to hearing about all your new experiences!

    1. Thanks Danielle! I’m actually going over on a special programme for British citizens – I have a job that is technically an internship for visa purposes, though I do get paid, and am going to study for a Masters in Business. The programme owns its own apartments and I will be allocated one to share with other interns.

      So I’m not just turning up in Manhattan, homeless and jobless, don’t worry!

      Thank you – I look forward to telling you all about them!

  9. There’s nothing quite like the experience of making a dramatic change, especially when it fulfills a dream. (I had that experience, a little differently, a few years ago…) If you were coming to Boston I’d stand on the dock and wave, but welcome to this side of the pond…it will be fun to read about your adventures in New York.

    1. Well I will know shortly what it’s like! I hope it is everything I wish for.πŸ™‚ I LOVE Boston – I will definitely be making trips there as it’s a book lover’s heaven, and despite having visited three times, I’m still yet to take a swan boat ride!

  10. Congratulations. I love it when people’s dreams come true. I hope you will be very happy. It’s good to know we’ll still be able to read your blog. Will you switch to using spellings like “center” and referring to corner shops as “drug stores”?

    Your reflection on how you used to regard change struck a chord and is very pertinent to me right now.

    1. Thank you David! Ha! Not likely! I will remain thoroughly British, don’t worry!

      I’m glad to hear that David – I hope you have some exciting changes coming your way.πŸ™‚

  11. Oh, my goodness!πŸ™‚ That is so exciting! I hope you have a wonderful time in New York. It will be quite an adventure. I’m looking forward to reading about your experiences, and the books you pick up to begin a brand new TBR pile! The very best of luck!

    1. Thank you Penny – I know! I could kick my legs with glee I am that excited! My many adventures will of course be chronicled and I look forward to sharing them with you!πŸ™‚

  12. Oh my gosh, congratulations! How exciting! I hope you have an amazing time there–I suppose if you had to leave London (I love London), New York City is a pretty good place to go to instead.

    I’ve been rubbish at change historically, but life seems to be forcing change on me at this point willy-nilly, so I’m trying to roll with the punches. It is actually possible I will wash up in New York City myself in the next year. If I do we’ll have to get together!πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Jenny! Exactly – I wouldn’t have left London for anywhere else!

      Yes I have found change forcing itself in so instead of resisting I have decided to actively embrace it and here I am, preparing my transatlantic move! How exciting! I want you to come to New York, because then I will have someone to go book shopping with!πŸ™‚

  13. What an exciting change to be making in your life!

    I hope that you spare a minute to wander down 5th Avenue and reconstruct the classic Holly Golightly momentπŸ™‚

    And the wonder of the internet means that we can follow your adventures in The Big Apple too!

    Enjoy.

    1. Thank you Polly! I know – it’s so unlike me to have such an exciting life!

      Oh of course…and also every scene from my favourite film, You’ve Got Mail!

      Yes! I can’t wait to write all about what I am getting up to!πŸ™‚

  14. That is so exciting for you! Change is always such a mix of

    New York City is a cheap bus ride from DC if you ever want to head down this way to see our lovely capital city. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only been to NYC one time (I’ve been to London more, if you can believe that), but I keep telling myself to get up there more often to enjoy all the theatre.

    1. Thank you! It is, but the exciting outweighs the scary and I just know it will be worth it!

      I am definitely going to be taking a trip to DC…I have to see the White House! Oh don’t worry – I haven’t been to loads of places in England – there always seems to be ‘another time’ doesn’t there?!

  15. AMAZING news. I’m trying to affect some changes in my own life right now (like yours, they would bring with them a relocation) and sometimes I feel like I’m getting lost in the stress and uncertainity of it all. This post reminds me that, yes, all that uncertainity makes me a stronger, more interesting person. It’s too easy to coast along sometimes, to never challenge yourself to try something new. Well done you!

    1. Thank you! It is incredibly hard to take the leap, but when I realised I was more afraid of staying where I was than moving to somewhere new, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and go. The uncertainty does help you grow and shows you what you are capable of – sometimes when I consider what I have made myself do I feel almost invincible! It’s amazing, when I look back, and think of what I’ve done, and the fears I’ve faced, and how totally worth it all the stress was. So good luck to you with your changes – I hope they make you happier than you have ever dared to dream!πŸ™‚

  16. Oh my gosh Rachel! How wonderful and exciting!!! I know its scary but I’m sure you will love it. That’s such a wonderful opportunity! I look forward to reading about your adventures there.

    1. Thank you Astrid! It is scary but I am excited to just go for it and see what happens – if I never did anything that scared me, I wouldn’t do a lot really! I look forward to updating you all with my adventures!

  17. Congratulations on attaining your dream. How lucky for us that we can share in some small way with you through your blog. Bon Voyage.

  18. Wow, congratulations Rachel! Very scary, but very exciting for you (I am still in the don’t-change-anything stage, but you have inspired me to look a *little* bit closer at my mindset).

    And you write so beautifully, really movingly about your home. I lived in the same house from 7-19, and although (as it was a vicarage) I knew it wouldn’t be my family’s forever, it was still odd when my family moved at the end of my first year of university. Actually, that wasn’t so weird – I think the excitement of moving to lovely Somerset helped – it was when we went back to see our old next door neighbour that it felt strange. In fact, and completely unexpected to me, I burst into tears when I saw the house again…!

    I do hope you manage to come to Oxford before you move, it would be lovely to see you again… and you’ll have to start a New York Bloggers’ Meet-Up!

    1. Thank you Simon! Oh, change is fun, I promise! It’s scary at first, but it’s like going on a rollercoaster – the anticipation of the drop is terrifying, but once you’re over the edge, it’s the most amazing fun, and you’re really proud of yourself for being brave enough to go for it! So – embrace change! It will take you to many exciting places!πŸ™‚

      Oh, thank you. That house meant a lot to me, and as you say, you do tend to feel quite unexpectedly emotional about losing your childhood home!

      I am coming! Naomi and I have made a plan so I will email to let you know when I’m coming. Oh yes! That would be brilliant fun!

  19. That is a big change! Like you I would be excited but scared at the same time. I hope all goes well!

    And I loved your story of the childhood home and changes in your life. It was beautifully written.

  20. Such a great time to read your post as I sit here having just ‘phoned around estate agents to register for renting (as we sell our flat) and as my next job is to sort through the mound of paper in our living room from having changed jobs this summer too.
    Just think of all the new museums for you to explore. How exciting.

    1. Oh change is wonderful, isn’t it?! Sounds like you have a lot of exciting new things to look forward to as well. I know! I can’t wait! The Met is going to be seeing a lot of me!

  21. Such exciting news, Rachel! New York is a wonderful city! We’ve enjoyed visiting several times this summer (Daughter #1 has an internship). Look forward to hearing more…

    1. I know! I have been jealous of your descriptions of NY but it won’t be long before I’m there myself! I can’t wait to start sharing stories!

  22. Congratulations on achieving your dream! I know you’ll enjoy the dynamic environment that is New York City–and you won’t feel alone, every other person living there seems to sport an English accent (whether they originally had that accent is another story–ha-ha!)

    So, revel in living in New York. As the Rolling Stones said in “Shattered”: “Bite the Big Apple/Don’t mind the maggots” (OK, it was the 1970s–New York has cleaned up a lot since then!)

  23. Oh my, this is my first visit to your blog and you’re moving to New York!! How exciting!!!! New York is one of my favorite cities and I think (after any initial culture shock) you will truly enjoy and love it! Not to mention, there are so many major cities to visit (Boston, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia)!! Bookish NYC has a great blog and she’s on your blog roll, so you definitely may want to connect with her as well. So excited to hear about your upcoming adventures!!!!

    1. Hi Natalie, welcome! Thank you – I love New York and I can’t wait to live there, and be close enough to explore the other wonderful places you have mentioned! Yes – I will email her as I’d love to meet up!

  24. Rachel, I’m so happy for you!! I know what it feels like to move an ocean across (leaving all my books behind, too).. it’s frightening but definitely going to be an adventure and I can’t wait to hear about it all.. xo

    1. Thank you Claire! I love hearing about other people’s experiences of moving because it gives me more courage! I can’t wait to tell you all about what I’m up to!πŸ™‚

  25. Hoorah, I remember you mentioning this at the book bloggers meet up (see how good I am at keeping secrets) I am thrilled for you Rachel and am so pleased that its all come together. It is going to be amazing and we can share it all with you via this!!!! Hoorah.

  26. Awesome. I hope you’re as happy with your big moving decision as I am with mine! Sometimes we really do need to shake things up. I find that a lot of the things I enjoy about my life here (making new friends, for example), I could have easily done back home, too. But it took coming here to get me out of that rut.

    1. Thank you! I am sure I will be – I feel the same – I am planning so much stuff that I could have done here, but somehow moving to a new city has given me much more incentive to push myself to do things, like sign up for classes, join groups, etc. I’m so glad moving to England has been a fantastic move for you!

  27. Hooray! I’ve been thinking about you quite frequently lately, knowing that news must be coming down the pike soon…this is just as I knew it would be! You must be buzzing with excitement and plans!

    I am thrilled for you, Rachel, I know how much you wanted this. There are some very lucky people in New York who don’t know you yet….but they will!

    1. Oh thank you Darlene! Yes it’s been a nerve wracking wait but worth it in the end! I am buzzing indeed – there is so much to do before I go!

      You are so lovely! Thank you! I intend on taking New York by storm!

  28. Welcome to NY. I live in NYC and work in a, guess what, book store! Email me privately if you like and I hope I can answer any questions you may have. You will love it here and we all ( all 8 million of us) will be delighted to have you in our midst.

  29. Oh, jealous person over here! My boyfriend took me to New York for a surprise anniversary trip a year and a half ago and I loved it! Is such an amazing place and I fell in love with it – and I don’t consider myself a city girl! I know that if I ever got the chance to live there – even if just for a year or so – then I’d jump at the chance!

    So, many congratulations and the best of luck!!

    1. Thank you Alison!! Yes New York is an AMAZING city and I know I am enormously lucky to get the opportunity to live there for a year. I can’t wait!

  30. Welcome to New York! Make sure to make time to visit upstate NY, which will amaze you with its miles of forest and wilderness and farms and mountains. The state is over 54,000 square miles, and in comparison, the UK is about 90,000, and England alone is about 50,000.

    If you ever need advice on the state as a whole, shoot me an email. I’ve lived in NYState over 40 of my 61 years, and I’m familiar with most regions (and with the wineries–)

    1. Thank you Linda! My goodness! New York State is bigger than England! I didn’t know that! I will definitely be doing as much exploring as I possibly can – I shall take you up on the offer of advice!

  31. Congratulations, Rachel! I am delighted for you taking such a huge but wonderfully exciting step. New York? Wow, so envious! I remember you mentioning your dream in the past and I am so thrilled that it has been fulfilled.

    Perhaps we could squeeze in a trip to Bea’s and Persephone before you leave? It would be lovely to see you again but I know too well how hectic it can become in the lead up to departing for pastures new (and I was only moving 400 miles away!)

    P.S. Illyrian Spring from M was waiting for me when I arrived back in London so thank you to you both.

    1. Thank you Claire! How lovely of you! Yes when I mentioned it many months ago I had no idea whether it would come to fruition so I am absolutely delighted that it’s finally happening. I’ve had to wait a long time and it’s such a relief to have the wait finally over!

      I’d love to! I have a couple of weeks off work before I go so we’ll make a date – I’ll email!

      I’m so glad – I so hope you love it as much as me because I’d hate to have hyped it up and then for you not to like it!

  32. Here I am, a day late and a dollar short as usual, congratulations on your wonderful news. New York! Some Edith Wharton literary trips I think.

  33. That is SO exciting! Change is scary but who knows what amazing experiences you’ll have in NY and all the interesting people you’ll meet! And I hope you’ll keep writing about your new life and all the bookshops which, I’m sure, you’ll stumble upon. Good luck Rachel!

    1. Oh thank you! I know it is frightening but also wonderfully exciting and I can’t wait to be unleashed upon the Big Apple! Of course I will keep writing – my adventures will still be here to bore/entertain you all!πŸ™‚

  34. Oh congratulations! What a fantastic time you’ll have out there and everyone will love you (that’s what I’m told about the US anyway, that Brit accent goes a long way). Can you say what the job/internship is going to be in?

    1. Thank you Jodie! You’re so sweet! Yes I will be a PA to the President of an Executive Search (headhunting) company which sounds very exciting and professional. Nothing like what I’ve done before but a new start is a new start and I might as well do it properly!πŸ™‚

  35. How fantastically exciting. I have worked in NYC before and it can be exciting and exasperating at the same time. And the bookish things you’ll do…

    When you are ready to visit Washington DC (three hours by train), drop me a line. I would be more than happy to give you the inside scoop. Have fun!

    1. Isn’t it?! I bet it is both…but as I’m only there for a year I think I will find everything wonderful as I won’t get time to be exasperated!

      I’d love to visit Washington and have my own tour guide! Thanks Thomas, I’ll be sure to let you know when I’m in town!

  36. Oh, wow! That is a brave and brilliant leap. I love New York, and can’t wait to hear all about your discovery of the city and what bookstores you unearth along the way. It’s not even remotely close to Texas, but I’m also selfishly pleased that one of my favorite book bloggers will be on this side of the Atlantic!

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