Where We Are

A question constantly hovering in and out of focus in my life has been WHERE? Right out of college, my focus was a place to live as an artist – where could I work as little as possible so I can make my art? I ended up in Kyoto. As I crept towards thirty, my diminishing egg count led me out of Japan in search of where I might find a man to have a family with. This led to an interesting, adventure filled quest. I can tell you, years in NYC did not  lead to success on that front. It took a few more years until the ‘where’ of raising a family – with the man I met and married in Sarajevo, would pop up.

The first year of Molly’s life, we moved 4, yes, 4 times – from her birth in Italy, 2 different parts of Croatia, arriving in Connecticut just days before her first birthday. We came here mostly by happenstance and here, I still am.

This year I enter my 6th decade and guess what question has been popping up? I am not alone in this: the topic is a hot one with my peers. Where to grow old? It’s happening so we let’s figure out if we’re in the best place to do that the way we want to. As much as any of us have control over this. This is certainly something of a first world problem and I say that only with some snark. Here in our wealthy nation, there is only a paltry social system and many of us do not have generations of family to absorb us with love and care. So how much better are we, really? It’s a lot to burden one kid with though I know she loves me, I hope not to need much besides just that.

So I think of the practical stuff: can I continue to afford living in the wealthiest corner of Connecticut? Mine is a charming old and drafty house but still and probably forever, owned more by the bank than by me. The guy who came to clean my ancient oil burner the other day, wished me luck that I might get another year without it breaking down. ($8K for a new one?) Will this house still work for me as I get creaky? Like the bedrooms and one bathroom at the top of the stairs. Yeah, I can’t believe I’m even thinking about this stuff – but there you are. (Are you too??)

Anyway, is this where I still want to be? Mostly I think yes. Although this span of Connecticut is crowded, the landscape suits me. There’s a good mix of accessibility of urban and nature joys including the Long Island Sound minutes away. I am not a mountain gal, I need to be close to a where salt water meets sky.

But wait a minute! Am I really ready to give up the notion of myself as being worldly and adventurous? There’s something about anyone who has ever led an expat life – a longing, an itch even – that never really goes away. Adored friends who live very far away and places across the world that somehow still feel like home – I want to see and spend time with them all again. For me that includes Jenny now in Australia, friends in Kyoto and cafes in Italy. Granted – those places are gorgeous and easy to love – but both also felt almost weirdly familiar when I lived there. I felt like me there, as if I had history there – even before I really did.

What’s that about? Why do certain landscapes, places feel like ours? I am not a desert person but my dear friend Paula feels a spiritual connection to the Southwest. When we drove across country in our early twenties, I witnessed her recognition, her joy when we got to Taos New Mexico. As if she’d arrived home although it was her first time there. I could barely breathe in the arid heat and while impressed by the beauty, was happy to get back on the road and our journey further West. And when we arrived in the San Francisco Bay area where we spent the summer, I fell in love with it. The light made me feel like I was in the South of France and every breath of air flavored with eucalyptus and brine, felt nourishing. I’d live there – at least in my memory of place.

But in the end (pun sort of intended), as we move in and out of our days, we’re all always here aren’t we? I find that a comfort – don’t you?

Did you search for your place or did you just land there? Where’s your ‘where’?

11 thoughts on “Where We Are”

  1. I’m thinking the same things. I too am in my sixth decade and don’t want to leave Illinois, but with Democrats completely in power I fear the tax burden will be too great. But the idea of moving, the long lonely process of building community, slays me. I too have felt that sense of belonging in places, when I first arrived there like Wales, or Arkansas. Not Illinois, though. I’ve not felt I’ve fit in ever since I arrived in the early eighties.

  2. I loved this reflective journey with you and the pictures to accompany it…your wedding day, baby Molly, your lovely porch (it would be hard to leave that!), and the extraordinary skies-clouds-and shore shot. So many of our friends have moved, some to be nearer their kids, some for the adventure of starting over, trying on a whole different life in a new place. All say they have no regrets and love their new path. We are pretty rooted in our old house with a new grand-daughter nearby, but I’m hoping for some extended stays elsewhere (Italy? England?) to satisfy that travel itch. XO

  3. Hmm. That’s a long time to feel out of place. Maybe there’s a nice landing in your near future? (Although leaving that farm would I’m sure be daunting.)

  4. Definitely food for thought. We have also been thinking about the next phase of life. I figure wherever the kids are we will be close by. Looking forward to some traveling, grandchildren as well as some rest and relaxation. I only pray for good health because without it nothing else matters…
    I love reading your blog, had to share it with Creton, he enjoyed the pictures , we are also in the same boat on the furnace issue….

  5. What a life — really! And you’re mostly where you want to be? That’s pretty good, maybe even really good. And don’t we always land where we are, anyway? To some extent at least?

  6. Yes, we do – I believe that. So why do I feel so moved and almost envious when I read your pieces- and Ben Hewitt’s too – up there in VT? You both seem so profoundly OF the place . Really it’s how you see the world and it could be anywhere, I think, and I would be moved.

  7. Like you, I am an expat and loved the experience of living in Japan and traveling all over Asia. It was never a dream of mine to do that, yet it ended up opening my eyes to life in a way I would never have imagined. The longest I have ever lived anywhere was in Conn. and I never thought we would ever leave. Life, however had different plans for us. We did not really make a decision to leave, my husband took a job in North Carolina and we thought we would ride it out and come home. After living here for several years, we did not want the cold weather or the higher price of living anymore. What make it easier was our children visiting, and making the decision to move here as well. They were able to buy beautiful homes and ended up having families, making new friends and changing careers. All that said, I still dream of taking off and living in Paris or Italy for a year or two before I am to old to do anything.

  8. Kathy – I bet we could do some gabbing! I’ve heard great things about North Carolina but there’s nothing there to tether me there. Maybe my daughter will move somewhere warm and pretty one day and I can follow her. Or I’ll just bravely forge out on my own – though that no longer seems that enticing. Check out pet and house sitters international- for inspiration on a shorter expat stint. And keep me posted. Thanks for reading and piping in! So happy to have you here.

  9. Like a number of Americans over the past two years, I’ve thought wistfully of Canada as a sane place to live. And I’m sure it is. But I just got back from 5 days in Montreal and Quebec City, and I’m pretty sure it’s not for me. Especially as an older person, those icy sidewalks are not enticing. I need the seasons, though, which is why I guess I’ll be here forever. And I like the stairs in my house. They keep me fit. My 91-year-old mother went up hers on hands and knees when she was tired, but she lived there, alone, until she died. Seems like a plan…

  10. I’m with you – hands and knees if necessary. Funny how you click or not with a place. And you speak French so it’s not that, I know. I’ll be interested to hear post India!

  11. Phyllis and I are constantly having this retirement coconversation! When we go on vacation we choose places that we want to check out and we have not found anything that strikes as the place….yet.

Leave a Reply


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: