July 03, 2010

Wide Open Spaces

As I've been talking about moving away from New York City, so many people have said to me, "But you're so New York City! You're such a city girl!"

Maybe I was, but I don't think I am anymore.

I've been craving suburban life. When I moved to New York, I couldn't imagine why anybody would move to Long Island, or Montclair, or Westchester to start a family, but as I explore those outer regions on my many adventures, I'm starting to understand the charm of hiking trails, mountains, historic relics, real parks, safety, and solitude. There's a quality of life that you can get elsewhere that you just can't get in New York unless you're making at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. And even then, your local park is a tiny square of green surrounded by skyscrapers and completely covered in dogs, strollers, and sunbathers.

When you're single, though, the suburbs are even more isolating than the city. I'm housesitting in a neighborhood proclaimed to be "where hipsters go to have babies" - a kind of Los Angeles version of Park Slope - and I'm unlikely to meet anyone here except perhaps students from the nearby Occidental College. But I can keep myself pretty happily occupied taking a hike, driving around to the post office, Trader Joe's, a botanical garden, a diner, and all the while listening to the radio, singing along, pounding the flat of my hand on the steering wheel to the beat.

And when I come home to a nice house up on a hill, with the sounds of fireworks in the distance and a cat who refuses to sit next to me but rather always on me, I think, life doesn't have to be so bad.

Of course, I barely use a fraction of the house. I pretty much stay in my room all the time, unless I'm cooking and need to keep the food away from the cat, or I force myself to sit on the couch with my laptop and look out the window. After having lived in a tiny studio for nearly ten years, and having hid in my bedroom when I shared an apartment with Terry, I don't really know how to occupy so much space.

But I think if the confines of my life were lifted, the walls shifted out and the ceiling shifted up, I could expand myself to fill the space. Without a person to share my life with, or babies to raise (which I don't think is ever going to happen), I would need to fill it with something, though - maybe, like some people, with a whole load of cats.

Or maybe with a new, expanded version of me, and whatever big thing my life can be.

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