The Life-Changing Adventure One Woman Never Expected at 55
I’ve lived in the same house since 1989, near Detroit, near the area where I grew up. My husband, Jon, whom I married in 1984, is a lawyer, and I’m an assistant coach of the forensics team at the local high school. We have two grown sons and are raising a third. We have a miniature Goldendoodle named Griffin. It’s a pretty typical suburban life.
Or it was—until this past August, when my youngest son, Matthew, and I picked up and moved to Larchmont, a small town north of New York City. Here, we spend a lot of our time in my car, driving an hour-plus each way to East Hanover, New Jersey, for Matthew’s near-daily soccer practices at an academy for talented kids who want to go pro. Since he has a career to attend to, Jon stayed behind but visits on the weekends. I won’t lie—almost two years ago, when Matthew came to us and said, “I might need to move to New Jersey for soccer,” I was like, Yeah, okay, sure. And now here we are. Our child has a passion, and it’s our job to help him follow it.
The funny thing, though, is that being here has been an adventure for me. It shouldn’t be: We live with my brother and his family in a town just as suburban as the one we left, and most days my big drama is walking Griffin around Larchmont or sitting in gridlock on the George Washington Bridge.
But those are new activities. Everything here is new, and after a lifetime of living in the same place, often on autopilot, that feels incredible. I don’t know where the bank is! Hey, is that a juice bar?! Who serves the best Thai food in East Hanover, New Jersey? (TripAdvisor has become a close personal friend.) Plus, the things about this part of the country that aren’t known to people from other places—they blow my mind. No one drives domestic cars around here. (That’s kind of a big deal in Michigan.) And in New Jersey, they have traffic circles called jug handles that loop you around to the right in order to turn left. My brain is awake and excited in ways it hasn’t been in years.
Also, I don’t know anybody. I have my brother and his family, of course, and a couple of friends nearby. But the community most people have—coworkers, fellow congregants, a network of acquaintances—doesn’t exist for me. What an opportunity for reinvention! I can be anybody. And everyone’s a potential new friend. At the New Jersey gas station I go to every other day, there’s a guy, Kassi, who pumps my gas—yes, in New Jersey, they pump your gas for you—and we have great little chats about soccer and how we ended up here. I never do that at home. It feels as though the world is open to me again in the way it was when I was younger.
If Matthew enjoys the program and they enjoy him back, he’ll renew his contract and spend his last year of high school training here. People at home say, “You’re never coming back, are you?” To be honest, I don’t know. Anything’s possible. If Jon has to be in court, he has to be in Michigan; if not, he can be anywhere. It’s thrilling and energizing. Recently, a friend of mine told me she had taken up bridge. This is what I’m doing instead. This move is my bridge.