Recently Gorgeous had a reading with a client who lives in London. When the session ended, she told the woman how lucky she is to live in such a beautiful and wonderful city. The client saw things differently, though:
“What’s so lucky?,” she asked. “It does nothing but rain here!”
True enough. It does rain an awful lot in England. It also rains a fair amount in our former home of Portland, Oregon. We both were blown away by the sheer number of consecutive days of overcast skies during the winter months there. Some people become affected by such seasonal weather patterns. There’s even a medically scientific disorder for it.
Prior to Portland, I lived for over ten years in Fresno, California, located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Even in “normal” years, it absolutely never rains in the Valley during summer months. Although I got used to it, it was difficult living in such a dry climate. Of course, at the moment the entire state of California is completely parched from a long drought, and state officials are drawing up emergency water usage plans for homes and businesses.
Anywhere you live there are harsh realties that one has to face. Growing up in Michigan, I feared tornadoes; living in California, it was earthquakes; now in Florida we will soon enter our first hurricane season.
The only place where I felt relatively safe from natural disasters were the 20 years that I lived in Washington, DC. However, even there an absolute and utter danger lurks at dinner or cocktail parties when you can suddenly be cornered by a policy wonk. There is nothing scarier than listening to, say, a demographer, who might explain sampling methods for state unemployment statistics. It can be challenging to find a graceful way of escaping from such an onslaught. That would be a man-made disaster, of course. But still one that can cause great fear and discomfort.
Since graduating from college, I’ve lived in so many different places. Each one offered opportunities to enjoy nearby scenic beauty and also its local culture. Philadelphia, for example — where I lived for a whole four months after college — had such wonderful street food that I still think about how great it was for that reason only (of course, there’s also bit of history in that fine city too). Fresno has a tremendous Armenian population, and the bakeries and markets there are absolute treasures for gourmet cooks such as my half-Armenian wife. Portland prides itself on being weird to such a degree that it becomes something to admire with establishments such as Voodoo Doughnut or Salt and Straw, to name just two.
Any place that you call home, though, still has its own unique set of setbacks. I loathed Michigan’s brutal sub-zero winters probably as much as Fresno’s 110 degree and higher summers. Likewise, I disliked DC’s humidity in the same way that I know I will feel about Florida’s in just a couple of months from now. Barely two nights ago, we caught a little Gekko crawling on our living room wall. Your humble blogger belatedly realizes how great it would have been to snap a picture of it for this posting, but I didn’t think of that at the time. I was utterly disgusted by the creature’s appearance in my home, and the “ewww!” factor was quite strong. Yet, critters such as this are common guests when you live in a tropical climate.
In spite of the negatives in those places where you once lived, the positives usually come right to the top as soon as you leave. Since we’ve arrived at our Florida hamlet, Gorgeous regularly waxes nostalgia for Fresno’s bike lanes, Portland’s foodie offerings, and Michigan’s cider mills. I bet there are places you miss too. Perhaps the city or campus where you attended college, the neighborhood where you were raised, or the downtown apartment you had before you got married. Sometimes things like the omnipresent loud fire trucks from the station two blocks over, or the nosy neighbor next door become less bothersome the further we get away from those memories.
As Gorgeous and I head into our first hurricane season, I am conscious of the fact that generations of families have endured many awful tropical storms and continue to live in the same place. New Orleans and Gulf Coast residents are somehow still recovering from Katrina, New Jersey and New York coastal communities are also managing to slowly rebuild after Sandy. The same can be said for the damage caused by years of flooding to Midwestern communities. Some people do move away, but most stay because it’s home. Having roots is important.
I’ve lived so much of my life as a bit of a gypsy, and I have every intention of making this my final destination. I assume that I will appreciate settling here more than I might otherwise simply because I’m too exhausted to think about moving to yet another place.
Florida, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.
Gorgeous’ client from London is in her twenties and apparently seeks a world beyond that which she’s always known. I certainly understand — I was not unlike her when I was the same age. I hope she eventually gets to where she wants to be, but I also hope that she experiences many wonderful things on the way there just as I have. Sometimes It truly is the journey more than the destination.
Where is “home” for you? Where you are presently, or somewhere still to come?