“No,” I said confidently. “I don’t plan to move away from here. This is my home. My children live here. All my friends live here.”
“That may be true now, but what makes you think that they’ll all live here indefinitely? You might decide to stay, but your children and your friends might move away.”
This conversation took place several years ago, and has come back to haunt me.
Not one of my children settled in our community or even in our state. As I worked my way through my address book this year, sending out holiday cards, I noticed a strange phenomenon. Many addresses have changed.
One friend, who was alone after the death of a spouse, moved to Michigan to be near his son.
“Well, that’s understandable,” I thought: “His son and his young family will be company for our friend. He’ll feel useful around his grandchildren, and they’ll be amusement for him.” But that’s not a typical situation. Most people don’t have such a reason to move away; he’s an exception.
As I continued addressing holiday cards I found surprises. The address book brought me to the names of friends who have vacationed in Santa Fe, New Mexico for years. They loved the culture, the weather, and the art, and often said they would love to retire there. Before we realized it, retirement eventually arrived. Their wish was not a pipe dream we often hear; they actually did move to Santa Fe.
A close friend and neighbor of ours always suffered in the cold winter weather of New Jersey. Lots of people feel that way, and many leave for a warm climate for three or four months. Our friends tried that for a while, and then decided to move to Florida permanently We miss the casual invitations to “Come over and see the beautiful Clivia plants in bloom.” And other reasons to get together. We miss their company.
There are many reasons to make a new start and move to a different community in a different state. There also are many reasons to stay in the place you have always lived.
It takes a certain kind of courage and bravery to cut ties in a place you know and have known for most of your life. But that place becomes more and more unlike the community you knew before: the reason you lived there in the first place. None of our three children live here any more, and friends are scattering more and more frequently. The town we lived in is not the same town it was. It is crowded, overbuilt, and full of new people of a different age group.
If we saw this town for the first time, and it now was the way it is now, would we still be attracted to it as a place to spend our lives?
Despite any dissatisfaction, we have discovered years ago that there is no perfect place to live. There is no paradise; every state in the union has advantages and disadvantages
Measuring them and considering options is confusing. I still don’t know what the right thing for us will be, but I do know that my address book is becoming thinner and thinner.