Location! Location! Location?

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.

Interesting faces.

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.


10 responses

  1. Great post. I grew up in one city and now live about 35 minutes away. We’ve entertained the idea of moving further from Athens…and the thought both intrigues and scares the crap outta me.

    Georgia defines a lot of who I am. But if we lived in Virginia I’d still be me. However, what I think most about is how where we live affects the kids’ development.

    • You might wind up being even more “you” if you move, that’s been my experience at least.

      I understand your concern when it comes to the effect moving can have on kids. I am so glad we took the risk. I have one child who can’t wait to return to the East Coast and another who’d like to pretend they were born in California. Both of them know that they are capable of adjusting to change and I am glad about that.

      Thanks for the comment Bernie!

  2. I agree and disagree. I like being from the south. There’s a politeness, calmness, and compassion to this region you don’t find anywhere else. I have family the Jersey/Staten Island area. I like NY a lot. I am type A personality GO GO GO guy. I could live there in a heartbeat. I like the action. I came *this close* to going to Rutgers and sometimes regret chickening out at the last minute. I also like the Southern Calif area and the suburban Wash DC area – Northern Va. I could live there also.

    I think that if you are open minded, resourceful, and adventurous you can adpat to anywhere….except Boston. Being around Patriots and Red Sox fans would make me punch people, including myself.

    Good post, Ms. Jen.

  3. I’ve moved A LOT — mostly between California and the Midwest, but I really believe all those moves made me who I am today.

    I like what I heard you say once — that there is real merit in shaking yourself out of your comfort zone. Through my moves, I learned that things ALWAYS WORK OUT. Right when I thought I would not be able to deal with losing friends or getting used to a new place, I found a nice new city with wonderful things on which to rest my hat.

    San Diego took me some getting used to, I have to say. But now that I’ve been here for more than 10 years, I can call it home. Still, I wouldn’t mind moving yet again to discover a new place. Moving is in my blood, I suppose.

    Love this post. And hearing more about where you “come from.”

  4. I’ve worked in plenty of major cities around the US…when I say “worked”, I mean 3 to 6 months at a time. Currently, my home away from home is Miami (Cuban food is da debil! man, it’s gooood!). I always find my way back to Georgia, though, specifically Athens (which has lost a lot of its innocence in recent years), Watkinsville, High Shoals, Madison, etc. I still enjoy living on the outskirts of everything, but i occassionally miss the diversity of Athens or towns like it. Kinney knew what he was talking about when he wrote “Honeysuckle Blues” …

  5. Jennifer! this is my favorite one of your blogs! I can relate in many ways with what you say, having lived in many parts of the country over the past few decades myself. no matter where I’ve lived, I stay true to my southern upbringing and hard wired southern-good manners. that’s how I roll. hopefully, to inspire some of those who are not as enlightened. although it does frustrate me when my good manners are not reciprocated. I have had to somewhat adjust my expectations living out here in So Cal, but don’t get me started…LOL 😉

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