Eleven years ago, I moved to Maryland. In that eleven years, a lot has happened. I had a little daughter. I wrote five books (three published, two in the pipeline), This blog became big. I learned a lot and grew, as a Computer Scientist and as a human being.
And now, I am leaving Maryland. The bags have been packed, the house is empty, and all we need now is to surrender the keys, and take the plane out.
It’s shocking to discover new things about yourself, specially when you are forty years old, but the whole experience of moving from one state to another has left me emotionally drained in a way I could never have imagined.
When I left “home” to do my PhD in ’99, to be honest, I didn’t feel this sad. There was of course tears when my parents waved me away, but when you are leaving the shadow of the great Indian family to make it on your own in a foreign land, the sadness is but fleeting, overwhelmed as you are by this sensation of nervous excitement. And honestly, at that age, you don’t think that much.
Now I do. The first time it struck me, this sadness, was when I we had gone to Chicago (that’s where I am moving to) with my wife and daughter to look for places to stay. It’s when we finalized the place, that it became “real”, that the “red house” as my daughter calls where we used to stay, was now going to be someone else’s. Once back, everything became different, and the heart seemed to be getting squeezed in that invisible vise ever so often—the last time at the park where we went for eleven years, the last time at the grocery store, small places that I never realized I had become attached to, places and things that I had taken for granted as just being mundane elements of my mundane little life. Then when on the last day of my daughter’s pre-school, all her cute little friends all gave her hugs, and drew little pictures, and her teacher, got teary-eyed and made a most lovely little file by which to remember this last year, just for her (by the way how must it be for teachers to say goodbye at the end of every year?), I finally accepted it.
I am going to miss Maryland, more than any place I have before.
One main reason for this is of course my daughter. It’s here that we brought her home from hospital, it’s here that all her memories reside, and though I have Gigs full of pictures, they haven’t yet created technology to store the happiness, the exact sensation-map of the moment. I know that there will be many more such moments, but still, if you are a parent, and even not, you will know what I mean.
But it’s more. It’s as if, and I know this is a cliche, that I am leaving a part of myself behind. You realize that when we say “I”, we don’t just mean that which is in the physical space constrained by our bodies. We are something more. We are the comfort of sinking into our favorite chair in our favorite corner of the house. We are going to the grocery store, and knowing what’s where as an instinct, and the comfort (not that you consider that at the time) it provides. We are the good doctor who we trust, a cab driver who becomes a friend, a barber who knows exactly how to cut our hair.
And then when you move out to another place, it’s as if you have been ejected from this comforting sense of “the greater self” . You are not as whole as you were. You can of course tell yourself “I will be back one day” but, even if you do, it will increase your sadness, and not just because of what Bob Marley once said “The good times of today are the sad times of tomorrow”, but because you will discover that the place you once called home is no longer your home, that it has moved along (as have you).
So yeah. I am going to miss Maryland. I am going to miss this house. I am going to miss myself.
But I will have my memories. I will have that.
All these years I used to live in Maryland.
From now on, Maryland will live in me.