Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Leaving Up and Coming for Down and Out

Did you ever get the feeling you are out of sync with the rest of the world?

That is how hub and I feel about leaving our hometown of four decades and moving to the Jersey shore.

We left behind a town - actually, a small city, but let’s not quibble over definitions – in the midst of a rich agricultural area dotted with smaller towns and farms. We relocated to a resort area bustling with activity during the summer months, calm during the spring and fall shoulder seasons, and nearly deserted in the darkest winter months of January and February.

Our usually peaceful, mostly residential new hometown butts up against the infamous gambling mecca Atlantic City, just over a mile walk along the Boardwalk from our home. AC received lots of publicity lately, almost all of it bad. From Ray Rice of elevator bashing fame to the closing of four hotel/casinos in one year, the town is in trouble. Hopeful expectations of a depressed city reviving and revitalizing, rising like a phoenix from crumbling buildings with the arrival of gambling, never materialized.

The flip side is our old hometown – located in the south central Pennsylvania county known as the place where the Amish live – is now a hip place. Downtown Lancaster is a hub of trendy restaurants and pubs, art galleries, boutiques, and cultural hot spots. When we first moved to the area the only city dining establishment (besides mediocre white-bread-sandwich-type places) was the worst Chinese restaurant in the Northeast, and possibly the entire country.

Lancaster County has also become a retirement magnet, attracting people from all along the Northeast corridor seeking a calmer lifestyle and lower cost of living than nearby metro areas.

Meanwhile, approaching life in retirement, hub and I relocated to one of the most expensive cost of living states in the country (the main reason being high taxes), a place never found on best places to retire lists and sometimes on a short list of worst places.

But right now we love it. Barring storm damage (Sandy) resulting in being displaced for several weeks, hours and sometimes days-long electrical outages (Irene and a couple of other unnamed storms), and municipal water issues resulting in an inability to use our city water system (temporarily), life is good.

I am sure everyone heard the saying: It is darkest before the dawn. I think that describes the current situation in Atlantic City. There are a lot of reasons AC is in the dumps, including years of government overspending, neglect, political corruption, shortsightedness in viewing gambling as the savior of the city…on and on.

But the city has hit bottom (only my opinion, of course), and bright minds with an interest in more than lining their own pockets are coming forward with a new vision. Maybe there is some light at the end of an interminably long dark tunnel, and we will see it soon.

We are in a great location. Philadelphia is an hour’s drive or a $9 round trip train ride (special senior citizen rate). Manhattan is a 2½ hour bus ride away, about $35 round trip. A long, sandy, beautiful beach fronting the Atlantic Ocean is a three-block walk.

Sometime soon we will return to Lancaster, spend a First Friday strolling downtown, enjoy one of the new restaurants, visit with old friends, and consider that maybe, when the shore becomes too expensive or ends up underwater (literally), we can move back.

Before then we are going to celebrate hub’s birthday with dinner and a comedy show at the Borgata, one of the AC resort casinos still open and apparently successful. We are not usually party people. In fact, we are rarely party folks. The biggest excitement this month (aside from the birthday night out) is eagerly awaiting hub’s first social security check. But I digress…

To summarize, we left up and coming for down and out.

Maybe crazy/unwise/foolish/reckless (choose one, all, or add one of your own descriptive adjectives), but we followed our heart.