Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rediscovering the Home Town I Never Knew

When I was six months old, my family moved from Ithaca, NY, where my Dad had been acquiring a doctorate in physics, to Providence, RI. He had accepted a position on the physics faculty at Brown, and we moved to an apartment near the university where he could walk to work.

Then, when I was almost six years old, we left Providence for the suburb of Riverside, where I grew up and went to school.

After I left to attend college in Boston, I only returned for short visits and day trips. I hated the city growing up--it was a post-industrial miasma, with an invisible stinking river, a not-very-bustling downtown, and not much of interest for a teenage girl. I stayed in the Boston area until 2006, when I moved to Santa Fe, NM for some southwestern culture and a taste of the mountains.

But during the last 20 years or so, on my regular visits back home to see my parents, something interesting happened. I started noticing that Providence was changing, and in a good way. With a brand new waterfront and river walk, a thriving restaurant scene, an East Coast "attitude", and the good bones it always had--great universities and pristine 18th century architecture, the city reached out and grabbed me back.

A little over a year ago, on a rainy June afternoon, I was walking on the East Side with college friends on one of my visits from New Mexico. We'd had a lovely brunch, and were visiting little shops and antique stores while we walked and talked. And  I thought, as I'd often thought over the previous 20 years, that Providence had turned into a great place to live. I said to myself:  "I'd really enjoy living here." And in one of those amazing brain flash/recognition moments I realized that I could live anywhere I wanted to, and if I wanted to live here, I should live here already! Within two weeks I'd contacted a real estate agency to begin the process of selling my house in Santa Fe, and in May  2011 I bought a condo in Providence and began to reinvent myself once again.

I hope in this blog to capture some of what brought me back to Rhode Island. I want to write about the history, the ambience, the art and architecture, the colleges and the hospitals, the sights and sounds and smells of a city that's both old and new to me--familiar in some ways and totally unfamiliar in others. I'm happy to have you join me on my journey as I rediscover Providence!