Hasta Luego, Rhody!
Moving is common. But feels like a betrayal to me.
DESSERT // Written BY ALEXIA WILLIAMS
I write this letter from the porch of my swanky Providence bungalow built in 1745.
When I think about time and space, I reflect on those who pervade it. The antagonists and the mentors, the elders who were once youngsters. The number of spaces one can occupy in a mere two minutes versus a seemingly interminable two hundred and seventy-seven years. The people who, 200 years ago, opened the same door that I now close as I exit my time in this place. With so many reasons to say goodbye to a place, it can seem all but right while still feeling complete. I grapple with this goodbye as I issue it to where I have spent most of my short lifetime.
Born and raised in the smallest state of the United States, I have taken great pride in the ‘401’ — or as many have mistakenly identified it — ‘the other New York borough.” If you are from Rhode Island, you know this place runs in connection to time and place. Your relationship to these things matters from which neighborhood your ancestors settled in, to your preferred chowder (mine, white). It seems silly to think that an outwardly progressive place can perpetuate such a means of antiquated entanglement and delight in seemingly superficial commonality.
Why does it matter where I get my Sweet Bread? The answer is quite simple; the owner’s 40-year-old ‘Sweet Bread’ recipe still generates a line on any given morning, starting at 5:00 a.m. So, why go anywhere else? With so many generations of Rhode Islanders deciding to stick around, the perspective and perception of growth have remained contained.
In an ever-changing world, it feels stagnant to be still. Yet, stillness is a practice that I am pretty familiar with. I went to an all-girl Quaker school for my primary and secondary education. I often practised stillness as it aided in finding my inner light. I give myself too much credit, as I often sought ways to slip a nap or review notecards; however, the principle of this practice remains –as my inner light directed me to this genuine realignment.
Stillness often provides clarity and contentment, yet my stillness produces restlessness. I felt that I could do much more than my current place permitted. I was beginning to outgrow many of my relationships rooted in longevity because it is easy to relive the past, especially when patterns remain predictable and undemanding. I knew it was time to say goodbye to Rhode Island when I felt my emotional, mental and spiritual wellness suffering while accommodating many people’s wants in many places and sacrificing too much of my time.
I thought stillness interchangeably meant settled, but I have realized that feeling settled will never work for me if I cannot cultivate stillness.
I have now moved to one of my favorite coffee shops in Rhode Island as I sought a change of scenery. See – I could not settle on the two-hundred-year-old porch.
So, I have chosen to do something that seems so familiar yet feels so offensive in this place. I am moving. Not for the first time, but for an unknown amount of time. This well-trained light guided me to an opportunity I could not pass up—a chance to continue a legacy in Rhode Island.
Well, that’s the most Rhode Island, Rhode Islander thing ever! Legacy building is embedded in the structure of this state, governing this place in a way that makes time feel like a figment. Although moving is an all too common experience, it feels like a betrayal to me. My parents had to leave their home states to build what they now have.
I teach my students that change will come when time and patience are invested. I feel like a walking contradiction; let me move away so that I can experience different and better myself. One of my mentors called me before I accepted my new job offer and said these poignant words, “To grow deeper, you must sometimes endure long-suffering and not be complacent through patience.” I had championed the wrong principle – patience was not a virtue; suffering was. In suffering, even when minor, one learns accountability and presence.
As I burn my tongue on this latte, I seal this message. To be a better Alexia, I must give an ‘hasta luego’ to this beautiful place and push through the suffering of uprooting to a new one. That new place in Maryland, where I will search for that bakery, explore neighborhoods, and hopefully find the best crab cake. Exploring a different place while making time to enjoy the stillness of something new. Yeah, sounds a lot better than staying settled.
It’s been real, Little Rhody. See you whenever.
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