pack up all your shit and move somewhere?
I get the urge every, well, every once in a while. The last time it happened was 2003, which was also the year I started blogging. The first post I ever wrote, on 1/20/03, included this:
I’m listing a “Random Oregon town” at the top of my entry because I am convinced that what my life needs is a MOVE to someplace completely different from where I am now. After studying maps endlessly and jumping from Connecticut to Washington to Tennessee, we have just about settled on Oregon. The only question now is WHERE in Oregon.
(Sorry about the ALLCAPS; I really hate that.) I remember those days. Ben and I were living in a fantastic Oak Park condo but were poor as shit. I’d (stupidly) gone from a federal clerkship to being a pubic defender, which was a 50% pay cut (instead of being a sane person who goes from a federal clerkship to being an associate at a big firm, which doubles or triples your salary, or at least did back then). Being poor as shit eventually made me tired and bitter, which made me see cracks in the glory of the greater Chicagoland area. I started noticing the divide between rich and poor, which grew larger and larger, with me caught on the wrong side blah blah carried downstream blah blah powerless blah blah no more glorious lunch hours spent at Marshall Field’s, rest its soul, eating something delicious for lunch and buying whatever I wanted. I cried a lot and felt stuck and sick of it and wanted to get the hell out.
After Oregon came Washington, and we’d all but settled on Bellingham (I wanted to go somewhere smaller) before I realized that, because of my fear of flying, that was probably a bad idea because we’d never see our families because who wants to drive from Washington to Chicago and back. Colorado, we eventually figured, is different and pretty (I really wanted pretty) but not so far we couldn’t drive home for visits. We came out once to pick an area to live and again to find a place. Then we packed up all our shit and moved from Oak Park, IL to Nederland, CO, with no idea what we’d do after we got there.
I’d be lying a little bit if I said I didn’t sort of have the urge again these days. Sometimes I think about moving back to Illinois. The problem with Illinois, though, is that you (well, we) are Chicago people more than we’re Illinois people, and a problem with Chicago is that it’s big. One thing Denver has taught me is that it’s okay to be irrationally unwilling to deal with a commute. (Our entire life here, as Ben is wont to say, exists in a 5-mile radius.) We’re not going to find jobs and a nearby place to live that doesn’t suck in Chicago. We’d be spending too much time in cars or trains or whatever, and this is probably dumb, but that’s a really big deal to me. And it’s expensive — mad, crazy expensive compared to Denver.
Here’s where I get crazy, though. I find a random job for which I’m probably qualified. This random job isn’t in Chicago. It’s in a tiny little town somewhere in the middle of the state. As part of my due diligence, I find that houses in this town are cheap as shit. The job’s salary would allow us to live like low-level rock stars in this town, as much as you can live like low-level rock stars in a tiny little town somewhere in the middle of Illinois. (Here is where I understand my ultimate life paradox, which is that I can live where there’s lots of stuff to do and not have enough money to do any of it or I can live where there’s nothing to do and have money to do all of it. Either way, I’m not doing much of anything, so does it really matter?)
Then I find a 100-year-old church that is zoned for residential use for sale for, and I shit you not, less than $50,000. I could be the sugar mama attorney (as much as you can be a sugar mama attorney in a tiny little town….) and Ben can stay home with Soren and fix up the church into the world’s most awesome home and write a hilarious and witty how-to blog about the whole process and we’ll make so much money attorneying and church-fixing-upping-internetting eventually we’ll quit that shit and open a vegetarian restaurant/brewery (we already know what we’ll call our IPA), but shit that’ll have to be somewhere else because I reckon there isn’t much use for that sort of thing in a tiny little town.
This isn’t the kind of move that would be really practical for us. As much as I’d like to think we’d be seen as the town’s amusing, offbeat, hippie family, we’d probably piss everyone off with all our dogs and our requests that Soren not be given meat at Bobby’s birthday party. We’re more the kind of weird that works in a big city, I think. In a big city, nobody notices how many dogs you have, for example, unless you do roller derby and have eyebrow tattoos and your horse-sized dogs escape all the time and scare the neighborhood school children even though they’re actually very nice dogs, in which case you might run into a problem every now and then. I’ve always secretly wanted to be quirky small-town weird, whatever that is because I don’t even know and honestly I have some kind of stereotypical Stars Hollow shit in my head, but I’m just not.
I’d be lying a little bit if I said I didn’t kind of dream of a world where we live in a 100-year-old renovated church and I walk two blocks to my little attorney job in a little town. But practical me knows it’s the kind of thing I should look at and not touch, a crush but not the kind of relationship for which you move across the country.