(Long, and at least slightly rambling post ahead, completely lacking in pictures. Thoughts seriously appreciated, knitting content to resume next post)
New Year’s always makes me feel thoughtful. Sometimes it’s pretty basic, such as “we need to whip this house into shape” or “we need to cut down on the sugar.” Other times I tend to think a little deeper about things. This year, I’m thinking really deeply about things. Especially today, and it doesn’t help that I’ve been listening to Sun Kil Moon all day, which has also made me a wee bit pensive.
Most of you will remember that 2009 was not a good year. I would say it was pretty darn to close to catastrophic, but not quite, since the tornado did leave our house standing. But when you lose your father-in-law, put your dog to sleep, have two of your children in the hospital a total of four times, and have your home take a good smacking from a tornado it makes your pretty reflective about things.
Now I don’t want this to be a downer of a post. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about 2010, so stick with me here. But I am feeling like it’s time to hash things about a bit. You see, it’s about that time when I’ve realized I have A Life. What I mean by that is when you are younger, say… still in your twenties, pre-kids, pre-house, you’re still building that life. Which means nothing is truly decided. Moving is easy, career changes are easy. You still think that you could really, truly pick up and move to India is you really wanted to. But all of a sudden you wake up one day and you realize that you’ve made your life, and a good one at that. But you also realize that you could have made some other decisions, and you wonder if the life you’ve built is the right one. That’s where I’m at.
The reality is we’ve built a really nice life for us here in Minneapolis. We’ve got a nice house in a nice city. We’ve got close friends who will help with anything at the drop of a hat. We’ve got a community of people who we fit with, a school for the boys that won’t test them to death. I can bike down the street for fresh organic ice cream, espresso and pastry, sushi or wood fired pizza. I’ve got coops, bakeries, yarn and fabric stores galore, bike trails, lakes, music…. and we live in this nice little bubble where I’m not a weirdo for using cloth diapers, not having a TV or hating Starbucks. We’ve got health insurance and two good part time jobs that add up to one full time job, meaning we both get to be at home with the kids. In fact, it’s pretty sweet, and when I read it all I can think is “what’s the problem???”
My other imaginary life of course. That’s the problem. The life where we live out in the country, milk our own cow, raise our own sheep, homeschool our kids and just enjoy the quiet, the solitude, the romping around in the woods….Of course in my head this is perfect. The reality is we chose not to move to the country last year, even though we had the chance to take over the farm when the Skeptic’s mother moved into town. The amount of work the house would need, the fact that there is no work for an audio engineer and music teacher in central Wisconsin, the not knowing if we’d make the type of close friends or find the community we have here…so many variables. And a change like that isn’t easy when you’ve got your life established, things are settled and already good. But then there is the question, could it be better? Have we missed something?
Or are we realistic? The Skeptic and I both fully admit we love to take it easy. Feeding the cats and cleaning the litter boxes is a chore and I think I can milk a cow twice a day? Or even take care of some chickens? With three little boys? It’s hard to say, really. I keep telling myself that the city is the right choice for us now, maybe we’ll retire to the country. But then I read blogs like this one and think we could build our own house, we should do it, pick up the kids, find some land, off we go!!! We’d never really know unless we tried….
I think what makes it tough is I really want both, and that’s just not going to happen. Which just get’s my head spinning and thinking, which one is better? But I think the reality is your life is what you make of it, no matter where you end up. Is one better? Or are they both equally good, just very different?
So what’s your imaginary other life? Do you have one? Do you ever wish you could make a big change? Or are you content with how things have played out? Or maybe you’re still in that early phase, nothing really to hold you back?
Now, I’ve got to go whip this house into shape. And throw out the sugar.
8 responses to “It’s that time of year…”
Oh, I could have written this post! We’re contemplating a move and I’m undecided as to where we should be.
Ultimately, work will decide this, I think, more than desire. We want Peter’s work to be close to home so he has more time to be with our family. I’m hoping we can find a home with a big yard near the 494/694 beltway so we can be both close to the city and still have some space to call our own.
It sounds like you have a glorious neighborhood. I wouldn’t give it up lightly, either. If I could find a house with a big yard in the city, you’d have me for a neighbor!
As someone who grew up on a farm, if you’d gone that route, your days of taking it easy would’ve been over. It’s a hard life that I think seems more idyllic than it actually is. Nothing would convince me to live on a farm again.
It really sounds like you two have built a wonderful life for yourselves and your sons, filled with connections and a strong support system. That’s something that would take years to rebuild in the country if you’d moved – IF you could.
What ifs are evil. Deep breath. And step forward away from the maybes back firmly into the is.
(Possibly I need a helluva lot more caffeine.)
I just wrote a similar post myself–musing about roads not taken and whatnot. I’m in the middle of a horrible case of “feeling stuck” here–trying to figure out what I want to do with my life now that academia is completely out of the picture (parenthood is great, but I do not primarily self-identify as a mom), wishing I lived in Oregon or Vermont but being stuck here in the Mid-Atlantic because this is where the jobs and mortgage are.
Chris is right: stay away from “what ifs.” Going too far in that direction will drive you mad. Sure, take the time to examine and reevaluate and adjust as needed, but once you make a decision, OWN it and move forward.
Hang in there! I am confident that you will totally rock 2010.
You do have a blessed life, and you will come to appreciate it more and more as you achieve more distance from the bad times. My husband grew up in the country, and he has a hard time understanding his own kid’s city life….
The grass is always greener, hmm? We moved just a little bit out of the city and it has been an adjustment – still is – three years on. It does sounds like you have a lovely time where you are – is it worth giving it up? It is so hard to find a lovely community – we’ve been here three years and don’t really have that even though we live in a village where we thought we might make those relationships.
I grew up in the “country” – 20+ minutes drive to anything. Which seems like nothing but really it’s just far enough that nobody was within walking/biking distance and doing anything with my “school friends” was a Big Deal and over the summer I saw almost none of them. We bird watched, we made forts in the trees, I had my own garden, my sister was my best friend. If I missed the bus or forgot my lunch, it was a big deal. It had many good and not-so-good parts. My dad grew up on a big dairy farm and visiting the family farm, I know that is totally not my thing. The cows don’t take a break just because the grandchildren from 1500 miles away are visiting. The cows don’t let you go to your niece’s graduations or weddings. My parent’s wedding was scheduled “after chores are done”. My brother-in-law owns/boards horses and the story is much the same. Chores twice a day, without fail, no exceptions. And you can’t just ask the neighbor to check in on them for you. It’s a very different life. Not bad, just very different.
What’s my imaginary other life? Who has time for “what if?” – I have knitting to do and bread to bake!
It’s the time of year for introspection, isn’t it? A couple of ideas… how about trying a hobby farm “vacation”? I actually know a place in the driftless region of WI where you can do this — pitch in with chores, try shearing sheep, etc. It’s still going to be an idyllic picture, but it would be a taste. Or joining a CSA where you put in sweat equity at the farm? When I lived in Madison this was a possibility.
I’m actually considering moving back to the Twin Cities within the next two years, and your neighborhood sounds perfect to me! If you have time, would you mind emailing me which neighborhood this is? I’ve been considering Linden Hills and Highland Park.
As you know, this has kinda been my predicament in the last few months, figuring out where ‘you’ fit in all this. I did think a lot about, well, could I go to med school? Could I get my PhD? I guess it comes down to priorities. I could go to med school, but then you remember all the cool people that make your life so much fun as it is. Without those places and people, life just isn’t what it should be, you become a different person. Yeah, you meet new people, you have new places, but then you just dream of the place you had before and end up comparing the two. I say, blame it on our ancestors of long ago who started building villages and cities instead of staying nomadic. The scenery never changes, but sometimes, that’s a good thing.