I Am That Girl Now

Monday, July 10, 2006

Oh hell, where did I go?

There's something about having continual visits with friends and family occurring weekend after weekend that throws me for a complete loop. I don't remember when the last time is that I got anything done, much less slept enough and ate properly. (And I do know that the sleeping thing is at the base of all of this. Not enough sleep means that my body is more prone to seek high-sugar-high-fat foods, and more prone to poop out on me during exercise. NEED MORE SLEEP.) Wow. Not that I don't love my friends and my family, I just really, really want to get back to having enough time to focus on me, my husband, our home, my writing, and lord knows what else.

Also, guests = drain on bank account, because my Hub and I share a sincere belief that guests must be pampered a bit, which means buying them food at least once, and other such things. We don't do well with a lack of cash-on-hand, so there is crankiness in the household.

I've had a number of conversations lately that have made me sit back and ponder. I am currently a city dweller, and fiercely fond of much of the things that go with that status. The thing that's making me feel a bit twitchy, though, is the cost. I'm well aware that we pay for the privilege of being city-dwellers, and in our current state as a young, childless married couple, it's still worth it. I'm just not sure how much longer that's going to last.

My Hub grew up in the suburbs of another city, and I grew up in a small town. When pressed to consider non-urban options, both of us immediately trend toward what we're familiar with. My Hub is horrified (and in much of it, rightly so) of the idea of living in a small town with no access to the city and few non-white citizens; I'm horrified of the idea of living in one of the soul-less, sidewalk-less suburbs. We've started the process of circling closer to one another's positions, and a theoretical middle ground has been sketched out: a small town far out but still involving Metra train access to Chicago. I want something with a good amount of independent small businesses and a good community feel. Between the two of us our politics go from socialist to libertarian, depending on the day, but neither one of us are keen on typical small-town conservatism.

Translation: we are probably screwed.

I just... gah. I have reached the stage where I want to start preparing our exit strategy, start figuring out where we're going to go from here. I know what I want; I just don't think it exists. I want a small, well-arranged house (our current apartment is spoiling me rotten regarding useful space), within walking distance (WITH SIDEWALKS, dammit) of schools/work/groceries. I want trees-- big ones-- because nothing pings my "aieeee, Kansas!" alert like treeless expanses. I want to be in a place where I wouldn't have to drive if I didn't want to, where I could bike around without terror of being smushed by traffic, where the town is arranged in a neat compact way instead of running away from itself. I hate sprawl, I hate huge yards and huge houses and highways and chain stores and chain restaurants. If I could pick up my current neighborhood and drop it about 40 miles away, that would be pretty well perfect. Small, neat, compact, quiet, trees, small businesses, walking distance to two (possibly three) grocery stores.

Seriously, I am so screwed. I love the diversity of the city and the tiny businesses within walking distance of us, and I would be very sad to have to give that up and give my money to a big stupid corporation because it was the only game in town. I do not want to live in a town with a Wal-Mart. Particularly not one of those Super Wal-Marts that include a grocery store and God only knows what else. I am irked at the thought that circumstances are going to someday force me to drive everywhere and give my money to non-community businesses. I am irked at the thought that I will have to have a big stupid yard and an ill-arranged house with too much space to take care of and not enough to live in. I am also irked at the thought that I might have to spend my days explaining to people that no, Harry Potter is not a tool of Satan, and there really isn't a liberal gay agenda to turn all their children queer.

This could, of course, be sidestepped by deciding not to have kids. Except, well, I kind of want them. I suspect that if a few questions were answered-- the HOW THE HELL WILL WE AFFORD THEM and WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO ABOUT CHILD CARE questions in particular-- then I wouldn't mind sprogging at all. One of our friends has recently become a new mommy, and we got to meet her darling baby yesterday, and I think the thing that most struck me was that she's just the same woman as she was pre-baby, just with a new, engrossing hobby. (Bad way to put it, I know, but these are the terms I know on a gut level at the moment.) And the actual mechanics of baby care are things I already know-- feed, burp, play, nap, change diaper, nap, feed, burp, ad infinitem-- so that part wasn't scary. And the baby is terribly sweet and, hey, I can't help it, smelling the top of a baby's head makes my ovaries ache.

Moving out of Chicago and into the exurbs would solve some of the financial issues, but at the cost of giving up... pretty much everything else. This is a quandry. Add in the uncertainties of what we'd do for work outside of Chicago, and the distance we'd be from all of our friends, and you can see why a) the issue is only now coming up, and b) it is really not one we're keen to act on yet.


In other news, having rid ourselves of guests for a while, my Hub and I have declared today to be Get Our Shit Together Day. Back to business on cooking, eating, exercise, and housecleaning. Yay.


  • I hate the developments. I hate the places where the houses are nearly identical, except maybe the doors are different colors. You know, where the houses are practically planted right on top of one another?

    On the other hand, I also hated city life. It was expensive and smelly and way too crowded.

    So our little mountain retreat is perfect for us... I want space - lots of it. Give me a few acres of land, a log house and a stable for the horse I dream of someday adopting (because I refuse to buy an animal when so many are homeless).

    So... I kinda know where you're coming from. Except I think my yard is too big for you! However, it's a mountain yard which means it's essentially self-maintaining.

    I love to visit the plains of Colorado... but it's too open to imagine living there. I find the starkness beautiful, but I want to feel sheltered by my Aspens and Conifers!

    By Anonymous Mae, at 6:32 PM  

  • Thinking that living in the suburbs is a less financial burden than living in the city is a myth. I raised my kids in San Francisco until the oldest was 14, then I thought I would move to Phoenix (I live in the suburbs). Right now we all need cars, there is no way around it, these places are not set up for pedestrian lifestyles. But the worst thing is that my kids and all their friends are spoiled in a way that wouldn't have happened if I had stayed in the City. All the kids have cars and really I think the education was better in the City. Think hard about moving out. Also, you won't make as much money outside of chicago, but you'll spend more than you think.

    I miss the City too much, and now that they're grown, I'll be getting back there within the year.


    By Blogger kelly, at 8:07 AM  

  • I think a lot of people worry that they don't have enough money to have kids. It's good to plan, but don't get too discouraged. There are many different ways to raise kids and they're not all equally expensive.

    That said, I grew up in San Francisco and now live in Modesto. It is *much* cheaper to live here. My boyfriend and I share a two bedroom, two bathroom house in a decent neighborhood here, but we'd be in a crappy studio in the Bay Area for the same price. Although we are surrounded by raised trucks with "W" bumper stickers on them, we know plenty of liberal people too. I don't think we have a Wallmart here, we and we do have a farmers' market and a Trader Joe's. It's not all bad living in a smaller place. Plus, there are a lot of young families here. My friends in the Bay Area are still single.

    Of course, I was a gung-ho public transportation girl before I moved here. Now I drive everywhere.

    By Blogger Anon, at 10:14 PM  

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