Goodbye Danbury, CT

I rose before the sun because that’s what I like to do sometimes. I looked out the window as I sipped my mate. The horizon over the buildings on Main Street slowly changed from black to blue to gray to yellow. I surveyed my plants which sat merrily between the window and me. I watered the dry ones and sipped my mate a little more. I could tell from the sunrise that the day was going to be sparkly and sunny. It was a slow morning, so I didn’t load my backpack into my car while it was still dark to go to the Catskill Mountains as I might have a different day.

Later in the morning, my husband and I crossed Main Street and went to our favorite café in Danbury. They served delicious guayaba pastries and a very good breakfast skillet. Later, I walked down Main Street, which was lined with family-owned businesses. I passed my favorite corner store where I could buy all the ingredients to make chipa. I then passed my favorite Danbury restaurant – a Peruvian place that served ceviche and had the most colorful murals depicting the collision between a traditional Peru and a futuristic one. My favorite mural included a llama and a UFO. Next came the public library where my husband so reverently got a library card as soon as he moved here; his love of libraries comes from his mom, and he takes library cards very seriously. I turned up a side street and walked by the newish office of a nonprofit I’d worked with for a few years. They did many things, but in our work together we strove to increase health literacy among Spanish speaking communities. I then turned up another side street. This street was lined with giant, fancy houses. There were also flowers along the way.

I continued my walk through the streets to a large park. I climbed a small mountain (perhaps better called a hill) and stopped at the lookout. The view was especially good because the leaves weren’t out yet. I saw Danbury spread before me. I could see the hospital where I’d spent the last few years training as a medical student. I was done with my studies there and was preparing to move to a new city for residency. It was odd to look at the hospital from this vantage point at this stage in my medical training. I did this same walk shortly after moving to Danbury. That first time, I remember being so excited to see the hospital view which then foreshadowed the learning I would do there. It seemed that both a million years and only seconds had passed since I first saw this view of the hospital.

Medical school was consuming. Yet, the years I lived in Connecticut and the year I lived in Danbury were filled with many non-school endeavors not limited to having ice cream from many different local shops, exploring the abundant water features in Connecticut’s parks, and trotting more than 100 miles of trails in parks surrounding the city. As I reflected on my years in Connecticut, the sun twinkled around me. I dwelled on my mixed feelings of on one hand being excited to move and to start a new adventure while on the other hand being sad to leave Danbury.

Danbury surprised me.  I didn’t know anything about it before I moved to Connecticut to do my clinical training. The city quickly won me over. Danbury treaded a perfect line between being an urban region reasonably close to New York City while also being far enough from the big city to have many parks and proximity to natural spaces. Many things on my Danbury bucket list remained uncrossed off as I prepared for departure. And, yet, while life in Danbury could have continued, it felt like the perfect time to move. I wasn’t seeking greener grass, the grass was plenty green, just a new place with different opportunities.

There’s nothing fantastic about Danbury like The Mall in Washington, DC or Broadway in New York City. The small details and the community of Danbury held my attention during my time here. I liked the down-to-earth nature of the people in Danbury. I liked the brightly colored murals that dotted the buildings along Main Street. I liked that I could easily find empanada shells, plantains, and all the ingredients for chipa. I liked that I heard many languages in the hospital. I liked that there were many different cultures represented in the parades I was never aware of ahead of time and always got caught in somehow. I liked the green spaces within the town. Thinking about leaving, I’d most miss the people I worked with in the city and in the hospital. I’d also miss having the Catskill Mountains nearby. Those mountains filled my soul with joy each time I hiked them.

I turned from the view of Danbury and the hospital and started walking down the small mountain. I’d started out this walk with the intent to reflect on my favorite things about Danbury and I had done that. Now, it was time to be present. It was spring. I’d done this walk so many times that I knew where to expect the skunk cabbage that was always the first spring plant in the wetlands here. It seemed right that as Danbury was coming alive with spring, I was preparing for my own new beginnings. I knew the seasons in Danbury well. I was curious how they’d compare to my new city many 100s of miles south. I knew they’d be different.

I smiled. I liked how sunny Danbury was and how mild the weather was for a New England city. “Goodbye for now, Danbury,” I thought as I saw a skunk cabbage near the trail. I noted the contrast between the sunlight and tree shadows on the leaves below my feet. I started back toward my Danbury home, not home for much longer but still my home that day. “Goodbye for now, Danbury,” I thought. I watched a robin hop near me. I loved spring in Connecticut.

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