City vs. Country

Whenever I think about how long it takes to get to the Methow Valley from Seattle I hesitate to go. Whenever I wake up in the clear, cool Methow air, I'm glad I made the trip. The fastest time I ever made was after my ER shift ended at 10pm and I drove without stopping in 3 hours, 15 minutes. The longest it ever took us was 7 hours, 30 minutes when we had to go around a closed mountain pass and stop 3 times to nurse the 4 week-old Z. 

 This is the deer path behind our land, the perfect single track for a 4 year old.

This is the deer path behind our land, the perfect single track for a 4 year old.

What makes a person fall in love with a place? Some people need to look at the sea, some the mountains, others the lights of a buzzing city. Me, I really just need to be in the sun, in nature, on a trail. But I also need those things that make a community come alive; people who get involved, have many talents, are curious about the world at large. In "The Methow" there's an active theater, organic bakery, natural foods store, multiple galleries, an amazing radio station, library, thrift store and a variety of community events from art to meditation to trail running. The local grocery carries French cheeses, Amish butter and my favorite coconut creamer. What I suffer from in the city is over stimulation inertia, the sense that there's simply too much going on to choose any one thing so I might as well stay home.  You may think this labels me an introvert but that's far from the truth. For the same reason I like shopping at Trader Joe's I like the Methow: A limited selection of quality products and the chance I'll run into someone I know. So when the only thing going on in town is a dance at the local barn, I can be sure that everyone who likes dancing will be there and the conversation I struck up earlier in the grocery will be continued.

We have talked about moving here for years but never had the guts to quit our well paying city jobs or leave our family when we were about to start our own. I don't regret that we haven't made it here for good because what we've done to build our home and explore the world wouldn't have been possible without those city jobs. But major change is happening now. We're moving to England, we're getting rid of nearly half our possessions. Poor Z. What kid doesn't want to accumulate as many toys as possible and here he has to contend with parents who keep negotiating with him to give up two toys for every new one he gets.

But here's the thing: I don't think I'm ready to sign up for several more years in an urban environment. I've been pining for the Methow, saying I was done with city life for years. And now I'm signing up for moving to LONDON? Am I crazy? London IS a great city, one of the greatest in the world surely. After the initial excitement of the thought of living IN LONDON wore off I started thinking about really living in London. The crowds, noise, traffic, high prices, the marginal public schools, the busyness of the city. Our friends who live in the SE of the city said it took them well over an hour to get to friends who had moved to the NE. Sure, some people you would cross the planet for and it's no big deal, but most people, people you just like hanging out with and who don't mind your kid (or have one of their own), you just want them to be easy to get to.

How was I going to reconcile what I really wanted with what I was signing up for? Surely C wasn't going to agree to an hour's commute so I could kick back in the bucolic countryside and chat up all the neighbors. How would we find the middle ground? I had to find a place that was near London but wasn't London, but also wasn't like Bellevue. (Ok, I have a few friends who live in Bellevue, and it's actually quite diverse. But it must be known that Bellevue is the only place in this area where Republicans come to campaign and even then they usually have to fly in by hellicopter). Thank goodness for the internet, and all you brilliant people out there who make searching for obscure data so simple! I found the place. Now I just needed to make the sale...