Topics & Perspectives

Dispatch from the Transition

Part 3: I’ve Arrived—Now What?

Starting a new life is daunting. Except for my son and family, I don’t know a soul, don’t know my way around local roads, and don’t know where to find things I need.

How to start? I began with a new iPhone and the confidence that comes from having done this before. As the saying goes, “It’s not my first rodeo.” I’ve had to begin again more than once.

First, the mess of moving. It’s important to my well-being that there is a sense of order in my home environment. As expected, downsizing from Texas proved I needed different kind of furniture for a smaller space.

I chose IKEA and put together three pieces myself. Although impressed with the results, I discovered I needed to purge even more stuff and assemble a shelving unit in the storage room to hold the remainder. After a few months, the “stuff” reached a satisfying equilibrium with the space allowed.

From the day I moved in, address changes were a challenge. Credit cards take a few months to revise mailing addresses and magazines even longer. The postal service does a decent job forwarding mail from a physical address but does not forward mail from a PO box. I had both in Texas.

Before leaving Texas, I left a post office box key with a good friend who checked it once a week for straggler mail and sent it to me separately. This saved me losing some important notifications.

The first address I changed was my banking address. If you bank with a local Texas institution and move out of state, I suggest you open an account with a bank where you now live. This may involve changing direct deposits such as Social Security, which may take some time to process. If you have brokerage accounts, these addresses should be changed as soon as possible.

New England roads typically do not travel in a straight line. Many roads were cart paths in colonial times that navigated around rocks, hills, thick foliage, and stout trees. It took a while to reorient myself to a non-grid road layout, especially when the road names frequently change. A cross-street might have one name going one direction and another going the opposite way.

U.S. Route 1 is one of the oldest roads in the U.S. and still has periodic stop lights with no left-turns. To turn left, you exit right, then merge left into the cross-street lane. If viewed from the air, this traffic pattern looks like a “jug-handle” — exactly the term used to describe it. I’d never seen a “jug-handle” before and must admit they work as well as the round-abouts, which are also frequent in New Jersey intersections.

Forming my medical network has taken months. First stop: A primary care physician within a large medical community who could make referrals to specialists. I found board-certified physicians in both Geriatrics and Primary Care, but many doctors are not taking new Medicare patients. Those who are, may have a few months’ wait before an appointment can be scheduled. I booked my appointment three months hence and hoped I wouldn’t need a physician sooner.

In the meantime, I prepared a list of all my Texas physicians with contact information, inoculation record, and surgical records. If you take medications, this list should also be provided to your new doctor so they can guide you appropriately. All this was given to my new PCP at our first appointment.

Legal instruments differ by state. My Texas will and other “final papers” may not pass muster here, so I’ll need to revise mine to meet New Jersey’s standards. I’ve consulted a few local senior living communities to find out to whom they refer their residents.

States also differ in their requirements for driver’s licenses, car registration, and insurance. In Texas, you just mosey on down to the DMV. In New Jersey, you must make an appointment — typically a month in advance.

Much to my surprise, the “appointment” went very smoothly: Within 30 minutes, I had a temporary license and new car registration. I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful the workers were and how smoothly the process flowed.

Making good friends takes a long time. I decided early to connect with the Mercer County Master Gardeners and have met some wonderful, smart individuals while working on projects. In time, some of these folks will become friends, and working on mutually interesting projects is a good way to start. I’ve also made a few friends at the gym and joined a book club. But otherwise, spending time with my family, writing, and reading fills my time. Meanwhile, I keep in touch with my friends in Dallas and hold them close.

Adapting to cold weather has not been a problem (I like snow), but I do miss the bluebonnets, warm March breezes, and the Central Time Zone. On the bright side, marijuana is legal, here, and the public schools are excellent.

Moving is a work-in-progress filled with serendipities. The best part of relocating is creating a new life in a new place. And I am enjoying the journey.


Barbara Glass

A Yankee by birth, a Midwesterner and Southerner by heritage, Barbara Glass lived in Texas for 20 years and em­braced all things Southwest. She celebrates aging by experiencing it firsthand, and helping the next generations along the way, including her own children and grandchildren. “I try to bring an understanding of the aging perspective within the context of community and nonprofit initiatives”. Part of this engagement is writing about aging in celebratory and thoughtful ways. “I’m living the dream by telling our stories.”

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