‘Leap Days’

Katherine Lanpher in The New York Times:

Conaspan_1 On Leap Day 2004 I took an actual leap, leaving behind the Midwestern city where I came of age, married, divorced, worked, lived, loved, and prospered for more than two decades, to move to New York. I cried so hard at the airport curb that the strangers milling around me must have thought I was on my way to a funeral. If they had offered me condolences, I would have accepted them. I felt, in fact, that a loved one was dying, that a life so known and dear to me was ending: my old, soon-to-be-former, settled life, in which I knew the tracks of the coming days the way I knew without looking where the spoons were in my silverware drawer. Someone was pushing that woman off the platform, and it was me. There was no safety net. Before that day, I had been an earthbound creature: think root vegetable. Now I was on my way to a new job, a new life, and a new city where I could count the number of friends I had on one hand. I was a few months shy of my forty-fifth birthday, a confirmed daughter of the prairie who had grown up in Moline, Illinois, gone to college and graduate school in Chicago, and then moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. I was as Midwestern as weak coffee at supper and ham sandwiches at a funeral lunch. I never did understand why Chicago was called the Second City when it was always the First City to me. The water and the valleys of the Hudson were unknown to me; I was bound for life to the muddy currents of the Mississippi.

So why was I getting on a plane to New York? Well, as I like to tell people, on Leap Day 2004 I moved to midlife and had a Manhattan crisis.

Picture: Katherine Lanpher with her Air America co-host Al Franken in March 2005.

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