Where are you sitting right now? (the macro answer, please). Are you in or near the area in which you grew up? Or are you some distance away? Are you in the same time zone, or geographic region? Or are you in the same childhood house?
And more interestingly, how did you get there? (Again, the macro answer, please).
Last week, I took the Bermuda-Triangle-Tour of Michigan. I started at home, then spent part of a day in Grand Rapids, followed by 3 days in Traverse City, then 2 days in Royal Oak, and home again. I could add in the outlier of being in Lansing/East Lansing yesterday as well. Short of hitting the UP, I’ve gotten a pretty solid cross-section of all that this state has to offer.
But it wasn’t until I was in Royal Oak that I really thought anything about it. While sampling France’s finest at Vinotecca, Residual asked whether or not I could live “there” (ie: Royal Oak/the Detroit Metro area). Silly, Residual: He already knows the answer to that. It’s a pretty resounding “no.”
And that comes off as a little bit of a lie; I could live there, but I wouldn’t want to and I don’t know that I would be terribly happy. Too many people, cars, and houses; too much concrete, traffic, and noise. I find that the people there are always looking to impress somebody and live at a much faster life than we west-siders.
Not my thing. It’s a different pace of life on the west side. The people have a different outlook on the journey, it seems. Even in Grand Rapids (Michigan’s 2nd largest city), the couple of million people don’t seem so overwhelming. It’s a much more laid back place.
I am a west-side girl at heart. And although he lived on the west side for 4 years, Residual is an east-sider through and through. I don’t think even GR would be a good fit for him; it’s not a city that will entertain him and it won’t tolerate his need to be known for status things. That’s not the west side.
But can people change? Can I become an east-sider? (Not that I want to). Or, what about people who are not living in a place that is a good fit for them… how do they know, unless they have lived elsewhere?
And is that enough reason to move?
I didn’t realize how much of a west-sider I was until I lived in the Northwest Corner of Indiana (aka The Region). While only a few hours away, Valparaiso is a world of difference from Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids. And it took moving away to have a greater appreciation for where I am now.
And each city or area has its own personality. While GR and Kzoo can be classified as west side cities, they are intrinsically different west side cities. Chicago vs. Dallas vs. New York vs. Denver vs. Detroit. All big cities… each with an equally big and unique personality. Do I enjoy them? Absolutely (for a long weekend). Could I live there for a period of time? Unlikely.
But a big part of me is calling for North Carolina/South Carolina/northern Georgia. And the call isn’t getting any quieter. I can’t put my finger on why exactly it is, but it’s there.
However, I now also look at my peers… and many having also moved away over the course of the last 10 years, are now moving back “home.” What is bringing them back? Goodness knows it’s not the economy! And none have ailing parents. And all are coming from seemingly cool destinations (Colorado Springs, Portland x2, Seattle, Tahoe, Boston x2, etc.). Will I get to South Carolina and in a few years, turn around and come back?
I don’t know that. What I do know is that it takes getting away to appreciate what you have and what you know.