I recently spent a couple of weeks in Denver, pet-sitting for my daughter and her beloved swain while they took a honeymoon/ roadtrip to Oregon. I got tons of writing done, like half a book’s worth, and I also walked several miles a day. The trip reminded me of something a writing buddy told me a few months ago: “There are other places to be happy, Grace, besides the place you’ve been happy for the past twenty-five years.”
My friend had upped stakes and moved from Maryland to Albuquerque, in part for business reasons, but also because she’d always loved the Southwest. For her, the wide open spaces, low humidity, fresh start, and new sights, were a big boost to her creativity and well being. She’s happier than a pig in a dumpster, and a yet, a couple years before the move, her goal in life was to “hang onto the house” in Maryland.
When my dad was fifty-five, he retired from teaching and moved from Pennsylvania to San Diego, where he had adjunct professor status and research privileges. He was tired of miserable winters, broiling summers, a big/aging house (seven kids), mowing grass, cleaning gutters, and raking leaves.
I love my little property, and have been so happy surrounded by big trees, farms, peace and quiet. My late pets are buried across the stream, I’ve written forty books at my kitchen table, and I raised my daughter in this house.
But you know what? Maryland has bugs on top of bugs inside of bugs, and I do not like bugs. Maryland can have several feet of snow on the ground at once, and stretches of 100 degree days that are as muggy as purgatory in July. Where I live, the main employers are the school system, the hospital, and… the prison complex. There’s no four-year institution of higher education anywhere in the county, and adult illiteracy is stuck near 20 percent. The only place the homeless in our county seat have to go on a bitter winter day is the main library despite the jurisdiction having more churches per capita than 99 percent of US counties.
Denver, by contrast, does not have bugs on top of bugs, humidity that results in mold overnight, or a lack of cultural diversity. Denver figured out that by dollars and cents, it costs the city far more (about $38,000 a year) to leave the chronically homeless on the street than to find them long-term housing and case management. The problem is far from solved, but there’s progress.
I’m not moving to Denver any time soon, but the change of scenery got me thinking. Home is home, but it’s not paradise. It was a great place to raise a kid and write the first forty books. Now that I’m not confined by membership in a state bar association, maybe it’s time to look for the next great place to call home.
What is wonderful about where you live? What could you honestly do without? Would you still live there if you could live anywhere in the world? Why or why not? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Jack–The Jaded Gentlemen, Book IV.