04 May 2010

A question posed by the lovely Cannwin: "If you could land anywhere, ANYWHERE. Where would it be? Near family? In another country? Right where you are? What motivates where you live?"

Well, what has always motivated where I live in the past has been friends and cheapness. It’s rare for me to have both friends and cheapness as most of my friends have historically lived in California where things are decidedly NOT cheap. I’ve always hated SoCal. It’s this land of strangers who are afraid of each other. Full of people who don’t acknowledge their fellow human at all if it can be avoided. Always paranoid about the harm that lurks outside of their house and quick to call the cops or social services instead of extending a helping hand themselves. Too much focus on making money and spending money, as if life is magically better with a bunch of money. I think Paris Hilton is proof that it is not. There’s also traffic (HATE IT) and high rent and unreasonably high food prices considering most food comes from California!

So, for many years, my focus was to just not be in urban Southern California. I explored the desert, lived up by the Redwoods in far northern CA, thoroughly enjoyed Arizona but I would always run home to friends or family when things felt insurmountable out on my own. I’d stay back in SoCal for awhile and then move on again. Finally, I stayed in “the OC” (not the ritzy part, the 97% Hispanic part) and found a certain amount of tolerable since my ex was holding our child hostage in SoCal and I figured I should make an effort to stay there and suck it up for her well-being. I got to a spot where I was doing well considering my rent was $1400 a month (cheapest I could find) and then my back gave out a few times and it was back to broke and soon-to-be homeless. A great portion of my energy as a teenager and 20-some adult was devoted to simply not being homeless.

In that OC period, I met my husband, Lee. Neither of us likes SoCal even though we are both from there. We both harbor dreams of never making very much money but having enough to get by and own a place with more than a strip of yard. In CA, owning a house is a bit of a pipedream. It sounds like a nice idea, but neither of us would ever want a mortgage the size of a major lotto jackpot. So, life forced our hand with my gimp back to make some hard decisions to leave SoCal. I had to leave my daughter and Lee had to leave his friends and family. We miss people, but we definitely don’t regret it. We are certainly more broke than we’d like, but we don’t worry about being homeless and we’re happy. We are still amazed at how cheap food and land are out here. Lee loves winter (me, not so much).

I feel like I’ve found my home. I don’t ever want to live this little area of South Dakota. People are nice. They aren’t afraid of each other. People care about each other because it’s the right thing to do, even if you don’t particularly like your neighbor. It still has that sense of community. People have chickens (and peacocks!). I love it here and I’m never giving it up, even though I can make soooooooo much more money just about anywhere else.

Part of me still harbors ideas about moving around. Places on the list: Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine and last but certainly not least, New Zealand. I’d really love to live in New Zealand but I think I’d be content with visiting someday. If Northern CA ever finally secedes from the rest of the state and forms Jefferson State, I’d seriously consider going there, where I’d surely be the right wing nutjob of the state.

Anyways, here’s the official list of moves and why they happened:

1. 29 Palms, CA; Big Bear, CA; Corvallis, OR – youthful indiscretions
2. Phoenix, AZ – 4% unemployment rate when CA’s was 10%.
3. Arcadia, CA – living with the in-law’s for medical problems
4. Eureka, CA – moved there because they had 13 midwives and only 3 obstetricians and I was pregnant and afraid of doctors. Besides, if we were going to be broke, may as well live somewhere with insanely beautiful scenery, right?
5. Orange County, CA – my friend knew a dude with a garage for rent and I was in the beginnings of what would be a very, very long divorce.
6. Sioux City, IA – couldn’t afford rent anymore, so I followed a boy!
7. OC, CA again – middle of that same dang divorce again…
8. Vermillion, SD – got gimpy and remembered how cheap and pretty it was here. Oh, and hope for the future because they have a college :)

Hrm. Interesting theme. I guess I care mostly about jobs, price and natural beauty when making decisions about where to live.

Right now, I just want to grow stuff and have a sewing room and a basement. I'd like my kids to be able to raise an animal. Heck, I'd like to raise an animal! Totally reasonable goal for living in South Dakota :)

(Oh, and to Cannwin, if you ever want to lease option that house of yours, lemme know!)

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