Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Missing Manhattan, KS...

Yep. That's right. After years of wanting to back in Australia, I miss Manhattan, KS. Not just the town, but the friends we made there, both socially and through K-State (although, almost everyone in Manhattan is connected to K-State). It was a lovely place to live.

Life in Manhattan wasn't always easy for us, but it became home. Even if we were keen to come back to Australia, Jimmy remembers living in Manhattan, not Brisbane or Warwick. It was nice to move into a space that was all ours, even if it was without essentials like a sewing machine, extensive art supplies, bicycle related tools and equipment or an electric drill.

But there were some nice distractions: different infrastructure, different bird life, unexpected insects, squirrels, geocaching, and coffee... Arrow Coffee Co became a home away from home and we became used to ordering 8 or 12 ounce lattes, which are almost a meal in and of themselves. Food combinations of peanut butter and chocolate,, or savory with maple syrup became part of our diet.

We've been back in Australia just over 8 weeks now and it's lovely to be back, but I can't help but wish we were going back to Manhattan in time for autumn fall or winter, even though it was so cold and dry that I had eczema for the first time in my life. This Warwick winter is much milder than I remember the winters being and it's a little disappointing, even if there was never any chance of snow.

I miss my job in Manhattan. My job was great, it really was the perfect mix of lab work and research and writing, and because the work was so interesting, I was too busy to be homesick, which was an added benefit. But it's not just the work that I'm missing, it's the people I worked with: my boss, his lab group, and the K-State staff. The people of Grain Science and Industry are a lovely bunch and it was a pleasure to be a part of the department.

I miss the daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms of our life, even if it meant time away from Jimmy, because he gained so much from his time at daycare and I gained a lot from working - not just returning to the work force or keeping my mind off being homesick, but a wonderful group of friends too. 

We're all missing the routine of the working week, even if Michael and I would have liked more time with Jimmy. We're currently getting lots of Jimmy time to make up for it, and while we're hoping something comes through work-wise, we're enjoying our little boy and (most of) his shenanigans. 

I miss the prairies and the Flint Hills, the native grasses and wildflowers (and I cannot believe that I haven't shared our last Konza Prairie visit - it was worth the heat, insect bites, and effort to get out there).

While living in Manhattan, KS, Michael and I felt that the seasonal and cultural festivals celebrated in both Australia and USA made sense: it made sense to celebrate Christmas or the Winter Solstice (or both!) because the days became longer, even if they grew colder; and spring (and therefore Easter) really was a time of rebirth and renewal.

It was fun to start developing our own rituals around the seasons and not have time clash with broader society - I mean really, why do many Australians celebrate rebirth and fertility (whether they know it or not) with eggs and rabbits at the beginning of autumn and Halloween in the middle of spring? I'm not questioning people who celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, it's just that, in Australia, the cooler air and slightly shorter days do not inspire rebirth or fertility.

There is a lot to like about Manhattan, KS. From the people to the climate, it's an easy place to live. Yes, it would have been easier if we'd owned a car, but bicycles offer a nice perspective and connectedness that comes from being in the fresh air. We made friends with some of the bus drivers and bus trips to the Discovery Center or library became a weekly highlight, especially once Jimmy started going to daycare.  

It's nice to be back in Warwick, sharing my old home town with Jimmy, but Brisbane and Manhattan are home. What makes a place home? I haven't worked that one out yet, but I'm leaning towards familiarity and friends. And we miss our friends in Manhattan, more than the place, but it's a package deal.

Manhattan we miss you. 
Thank you for having us.
We look forward to seeing you again soon.

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