Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Location, Location, Location

I did not intend to sound like we have great plans or changes or anything coming in my last post when I mentioned moving away from Dallas. It was a statement more about our general long-term thoughts than about any concrete, immediate plans. I do think we will move away if we get the opportunity for it. Where? I am tempted to shout, "Anywhere but here!" but that is not fair or consistent with the attitude of contentment I am trying to foster in myself. And not true, really, either. I think this next move is one that we will consider a bit carefully and hope to be a settling-down kind of move to a place where our kids will go to school and we will both have permanent jobs-- you know, the kind with no end-point. That will be a first for us, as our adult lives have been taken up so far with 3, 4, or 5 year stints in pursuit of various degrees, residencies, and the like.

Anyway, this makes us think about what kind of city we want to call home, what kind of city we want to raise a family in. I think I mentioned at the end of this post some of what we want in our ideal future-- a city that is pedestrian friendly and where we can live in a neighborhood with places to walk and/or bike to, a city with less extreme summers and not too dramatic winters, and a city with a character that is more in line with our interests and values than Dallas is. It turns out that we are WILDLY UNCREATIVE because the cities we think we would like to live in turn out to be cities that EVERYONE wants to live in and thus there are not a lot of jobs to be had-- you know, Portland, Austin (although the weather there would be no improvement, obviously), Seattle, and the like. Rob has started asking around just a little and it seems like the market for allergy/immunology jobs is pretty saturated everywhere we think we would like to live. So we don't know what will happen, or where it will happen for us. This is all made more uncertain because Rob still isn't sure what he wants to be when he grows up. His uncertainty is admittedly not conducive to making grand 5-year plans but it is one that I am very sympathetic to, seeing as how I haven't ever quite figured that out either. This next year or two of his fellowship should help him gain more perspective on what he wants to spend his career doing, or at least knock another thing or two off the list of possibilities.

I've been spending probably more time than I should pondering where we might move away, which I suspect is directly linked to the horrific weather we've been having. Last summer I joked that I had some sort of reverse culture shock upon moving back to Texas after living in the Northeast and this summer, my joke is that I have a case of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is so, so hot; even the overnight low temperatures are warmer than where I am comfortable. The sun blazes white in a sky that is grim and oppressive with no clouds, a sky so pale that it seems to be burning white-hot as well. It burns down on the flat, prairie landscape that has been paved over with concrete and strip malls and highways that shimmer in the stifling heat. In the midst of this heat, we've passed the one-year mark of being back in Texas and I will admit to feeling gloomy and downcast about it all-- the culture here, the climate, and so forth.

However, I am endeavoring to do better. Wallowing in discontentment is not consistent with what I believe about God and who I am and all that, and there is so much in my life to be joyful about. I certainly don't want to waste any moment of Violet's babyhood or Grace's toddlerhood in being unhappy about something I can't change. This is the only time Grace will ever be 3 and 1/2, the only 6-month-old moments I'll ever get with Violet, and I don't want to squander them because of where we happen to live. And it's the middle of July already, which means we're about halfway through. We've already made it through May and June, with just August and September ahead of us. It is usually comfortable by the time we get to October (although I notice that I waxed complain-y last year in the middle of November). Anyway, I still believe that being content is more about the choices I make that my circumstances, so I am going to
  • reflect on how much I have to be thankful for,
  • be more mindful in my daily life about the small things that bring me joy,
  • not do things that involve being outside,
  • try harder to build a happy social life for myself (although that may sometimes conflict with that last one because PEOPLE KEEP TRYING TO DO THINGS OUTSIDE-- sheesh, crazy people...),
  • make time for the activities that cheer me up like sewing and reading and whatnot.


amydove said...

Does that mean that you could stay in Dallas even after Rob's fellowship is over (meaning that you don't have to move at any particular date)?

Might I suggest the Washington, DC area as an option? It has a very nice balance of all four seasons. Though that's where I grew up so I could be biased. The downside is that it is expensive.

And I'm with you on the heat, though I am proud of my body for learning to be tolerant of continuous 100 degree weather. My family predicts that I will be as miserable as you sound now in the New York winters.

Kimberly Fullton said...

if we all stop trying to be green, maybe we can shift global climate change to our favor and you could live in connecticut again without the sloppy winters. it's 75 here today and hasn't gotten above 85 all "summer," i think. now, if we could only do something about the february wind chill...

Christy@pipandsqueak said...

I have lived in Texas 36 of my 37 years and the heat still gets me. It seems much worse this year as I have a 3.5 year old who wants to play outside. I know I am guilty of being one of your friends getting you out there but know we always enjoy hanging with you all and would be happy to find more indoor things to do. Let's get creative!

angie.a said...

Wish I was closer! I'm off in the summer and am bored stiff alot of the time! And I hate the oppressive heat and humidity, even though I've never lived anywhere else. Being happy in the moment is good advice for anyone.

Andrea said...

Have you considered LA? It doesn't seem like the most pedestrian-friendly place, but it's a big city with lots of variety. I live in Pasadena and I can walk to most places and I take a bus to work. After Austin, the weather is like being in heaven. I've only just had to start using the A/C and the rest of the year I just leave the windows open. The cost-of-living is high, but the salaries are commensurate. Anyway, good luck with the summer weather and I'll try to send some California weather your way.

Emily said...

The summer of 1980 was a record breaker in Dallas. I was a new babe and my brother was 2.5. Blackouts were common and my mom says that we spend many days in cool bathtubs.

Cam thinks ya'll should move to Eureka, CA. You would really like parts of DC too, but the cost-of-living is so high, I'd say at least twice that of Hamden. For housing inside the beltway, that is. If you are way out in the suburbs, it is much harder to enjoy all that DC has to offer, IMO.

Kimberly said...

I live in a suburb of D.C. The weather is mostly very nice, though we do have at least a week or three in the summer and winter that are kindof miserable.

The housing cost of living is higher than some places, obviously, but the rest isn't too bad.

The "city" that I live in is a very walkable area. I can get to just about everything I need within a mile or two. My area of town was developed just post WWII, so we have LOTS of mature trees and parks and such. It is still part of a metro area, so I don't feel comfortable just letting my three yo roam around, but still.

We live at the end of a metro line. Which means that we can hop on the train and be deep in the city in 45 minutes. Frankly, if you are taking public transpo, it doesn't matter if you are inside or outside the Beltway. I never do it, because I cannot imagine wrangling a 6 month old and an almost 3 yo with varying food and nap needs, into the city for the day. I just don't like the museums that much.