Heyyyyy, Kaaaaatie. (this time, imagine my voice sounding like Eeyore’s.) You know when I’m quoting John Mayer’s lyrics, I’m in a contemplative mood. A few things have come up around here that have me thinking about our move to Cali lately and, more specifically, the “big-picture” for our family life.
You know, when we lived in a mid-sized town in the Midwest, Chris and I both felt a little ansty. (I just looked up the correct spelling for that. According to urban-dictionary, the spelling really stems from the sensation of having ants-in-your-pants. Can that be right?!)
Anyway, for the most part, we had both lived in the Midwest for all our lives. When we first met, we talked about moving a lot, just to check things out. Then, we had kids and decided to stay near our families. (Highly recommend this.) Then, the kids got a little older and we got more comfortable as parents, and decided to try a move after all. So, here we are in what I sincerely describe as one of the most exciting places in the country (seriously, the excitement in the air is tangible, all over the Bay Area) yet the feeling is creeping up on me again. Is this where we want to settle down? Should we want to settle down?
Thanks to facebook, I got in touch recently with an old friend. She and her husband left their established, high-paced careers in a major city to take over her parents’ small-business in the small-town (pop. 3200) where we went to high school. I was quite shocked, actually, as this sounds absolutely miserable to me, but she said they’re so much happier now. She said, for the first time, she isn’t searching for her place in the world.
What am I gonna say? Everyone’s different. There are pros and cons to living anywhere. I just wonder what makes a person content in a place. Weather? Relationships? The view? And, of course, the more people that constitute your immediate family, the more people’s contentedness you have to consider. Our kids are at an age (and disposition?) where they seem happy no matter where they are. But I also don’t want to yank them around all over while I’m trying to figure it out for myself.
I guess I’m envious of people who are so sure they’re where they’re supposed to be. I don’t only question what part of the country we’re in, I question lifestyle. Sometimes I dream of living in a house we’ve designed and built ourselves, on some substantial property, away from masses of people. Then, I visit San Francisco and think it might be fun to try a condo on a crowded city block, where a public park counts as our yard. Last night, I was just thinking of how both of these ideas, and the reality right now that we are renting a single-family home in a suburb, are all pretty much the same thing. Maybe what I’m missing is that we should be naked head-hunters on an island where people don’t even know what houses are.
Is that possible? I guess I’m realizing, from this move, that it’s all relative. I feel like Palo Alto is a hustling, bustling, exciting-but-harsh city, based on my experience in the Midwest. (And you were right. There’s lots of traffic.) But I’ve made friends with a woman from London who says Palo Alto is incredibly slow-paced, friendly, and AFFORDABLE. (For the record, Palo Alto’s cost of living is 140.90% higher than the U.S. average.)
So, what is it for you? Do you feel content where you are? What might you want to try? Do you ever wonder if EVERYONE has it all wrong? After all, we only get one chance at the human experience and it seems like we’re all functioning on a small spectrum. (I really think the dinosaurs had it figured out. You know the life of a diplodocus was night-and-day different than a gigantosaurus.) (Yes, I live with two 6-year-old boys.)
I guess that’s it for now. Hopefully I shake this all off soon. It’s causing some low-level anxiety, to be walking around wondering if I need to pull a Henry-David Thoreau on my family’s ass.