Ode to the Familiar
We are moving. I mean, for real. We found a place and paid a deposit. This geographical move south, for at least half of you reading this, will not mean a thing, as you live on the east coast, or in the south, or in Uruguay. And by now, if you're a local buddy of mine and you don't know this, then I've been a terrible dolt...so, guess what, surprise! we're moving.
Moving is a funny thing. As the crow flies we're looking at about two hours drive south of where we live now. The scenery is very similar (see color photos), and there is in fact more of it, with fewer tall buildings to obscure it. We'll be closer to destination spots for hiking, accessing the ocean, and a variety of outdoor activities. We'll also be in a more culturally and ethnically diverse part of the state, which I look forward to.
As we drove back home today after a weekend of scouting a place to live, I suddenly saw how shabby parts of my own home county are. I started to see beyond my "familiar" eyes with my real eyes. It occurred to me: I love this area because it's familiar to me, and because I've built a community here, not because it is inherently more perfect than anywhere else.
I'm so interested in the psychology of the familiar, and especially that of place. It was clear to me when we visited Northcentral Montana that we were outsiders in a way so deep it could not be adapted out of us in a mere two years. We didn't own or relate to the history of that Montana town. The area was so "other" that it was going to require radical immersion, which, we realized, we weren't prepared to do. Our new town, however, is like a fraternal twin of where we live now, so similar that from a certain angle you couldn't tell them apart, but up close, quite different. All the same essential types of services are available, and there's a sweet downtown in walking distance of our new abode (with a bookstore!). The west side feels like the well-kept area with pretty neighborhoods, while the east side is relegated to pop up malls and pop up communities of behemoth beige developments with fancy names. I know this layout. It's very familiar.
North or South of San Francisco?
And yeah, I like what's familiar. 5 years ago I was braver, had less fixed desires. Now, I want to ease into warm water, not plunge into icy depths.
Both of my parents (who have not been married to one another since I was three) said the same thing when I told them the news that we found a place and actually know when we'll be moving. "Wow, it's moving so fast!"
Now, since E and I have been looking for a place to live out of the area, even out of state, since January, I found this statement to be amusing and blatantly false. What I believe they each really meant was, "Wow, I didn't really believe it was going to happen! I thought you'd be at arm's length forever!"
We are under no illusion that moving is some light and airy thing to do. It's big. Your life changes immeasurably. We will miss our quaint town with its pretty iron scrollfront buildings; its funny little tidal slough that passes as a river; its quaint eateries--Aram's, Hallies, Dempseys; its amazing literary community; it's Moose Lodge and Classic Car-lovers; its history of chickens and its tribute to dairy products in the annual Butter & Egg Day Parade. Oh yes, we will miss it. But I'm excited to learn the history and secrets of our new town, since this is about all the adventure I'm up for.
Good 'Ole P-Town
One of our biggest concerns about moving was that we have so much where we live now that we feared we'd only be trading down. Now, I feel like at the very least it's pretty equal. Maybe this taste for the familiar has something to do with the sudden appearance of gray hairs on my head. Yes, hairs. More than one.