It was subway face that ultimately sent me, bags packed, back to Atlanta. After living in New York City for 11 months, I just couldn’t continue putting forth a fake face. I like to make eye contact with people, be they on the subway, or the street. But I learned while living in New York that it was better to fix my eyes on a poster or some other inanimate object rather than risk the wrath of a crazy or mean person.
I suppose if I had grown up riding the subway, this way of life would have been fine. But I didn’t. I grew up in a place where people held doors open for strangers and at the very least, gave a head-nod greeting as they passed on the street. Those types of things tend to stick with you. At least they did with me.
I have learned a tremendous amount about myself from living in different locales. In addition to the Northeast, I have called the Mid-Atlantic, the South, and for the past seven years, the West Coast, home. And while I won’t say that one part of the country is better than another, I will say:
I am happiest when surrounded by:
Hydrangea and Honeysuckle.
People who like to chat (with strangers) while they wait in a line.
Tolerance and open-mindedness.
Warm temperatures and blue skies.
Neighbors who are neighborly.
Sidewalks—the kind that I can actually, you know, walk on.
Ethnic neighborhoods– filled with hard to pronounce foods and exotic influences.
A diverse population.
I am not sure that any one place I have lived has offered everything on that list. Or maybe they all have, but I wasn’t where I needed to be to experience it.
But that is okay, because another thing I have learned is that quality of life is not solely determined by geographic location. I take me everywhere I go. If I am not doing well on the inside, it doesn’t really matter where I hang my hat at night.
I am grateful to have lived in various places, and spaces, around the country. And while I will miss my children (a lot!) when they head off on their own, I do hope they will explore as well.
Have you lived in one place your entire life? Do you think where you live defines you? If so, how?
And while you think about your answers, here are three songs that remind me of a few of the places I have lived.