by Meagan Francis
At the beginning of this month, I posted about the kind of house that feels right to me. I know it when I see it: older, quirky, lots of history and character.
But while I’ve pretty much always known exactly what kind of home I’ve been in search of, settling on the “right” location has always felt just out of reach. I’ve moved so many times in my life that I’ve lost count of the exact number–but about 20 times since I had my oldest child nearly 13 years ago. Not just house to house, either: every time we’ve started to hunker down into a new city or town, it seems we’ve found some reason for moving on.
Sure, our reasons for moving have always been legit–a new/better job was behind most of them–but not strictly necessary. I think I’ve been on a quest for the last decade and a half to figure out whether I’m really a city girl or a small town girl; a downtown girl or a country girl. And finally, the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m….all of the above. I will always find something to love about every place we visit. Whether it was Duluth, MN or Denver, CO, when I’ve left a place I’ve always wished, just a little, that I lived there. And when you don’t really commit to an area, it’s only too easy to turn that moving fantasy into a reality.
But at some point, I began to get tired of living my life as a perpetual tourist.
And here we are, homeowners and finally committed. Our house is in a small beach city that’s big on physical beauty but lacking in night life (I tried to go out to a pub for the first time in months a few Saturdays ago, and we got kicked out when they closed at 11 PM.) The closest large bookstore is an hour away, but there’s an adorable small one downtown. The restaurants aren’t plentiful, but you can eat at one without emptying your kids’ college savings account. There aren’t too many places to go, but I can be anywhere in town within five minutes by car or fifteen by bicycle.
We’ve lived in two big cities, several medium-sized cities and a couple of small towns, and what I’ve finally realized is that a lot of the things I always thought would really matter to me in a place just aren’t as important as I thought they were. Arts and culture, nightlife and coffee shops are great, but they don’t make up for your family living hours away. It’s possible to live within a stone’s throw of dozens of cool folk but never actually see them because everybody’s so busy (what’s that saying about water, water everywhere…) And I’ve come to realize that right now, while I’m in the midst of raising a large family on a not-that-large budget, the trade-offs to living in an area where, well, everybody else also wants to live are just too high.
Of course, the expense and hassle of dealing with a big city could have been overcome if we’d lived near family there. But we didn’t. And for us, that turned out to be a deal-breaker. Sure, our Saturdays offer fewer entertainment options than we had when we lived in Chicago, but we can drop in on the people who know and love us best and spend the day sitting around the yard watching the kids play in the leaves.
Is our small town our “forever” home? Well, who knows. I love enough other places to see us making a move one day. But it’s home for now; enough of a home that I don’t mind digging in and putting down some roots. I won’t say I don’t feel a pang whenever I think of the cool places I haven’t yet lived, but mostly, I feel nice and comfortable. And strangely, I’m finding I like “comfortable” more than I ever thought I would.
Share, Share: What about you? Do you feel like you’ve found your “forever” home town–or are you just passing through?
As a mom of five and blogger, author and writer, Meagan Francis spends the bulk of her time trying to balance kissing boo-boos with meeting deadlines (sometimes doing both simultaneously). But while life with kids is often chaotic and frustrating, Meagan believes a mother’s life can be rewarding and fun—and that all moms deserve a little more happiness. Her book The Happiest Mom: Ten Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood, will be published in partnership with Parenting magazine in April of 2011.