Bonnie and I have talked a lot over the course of the past year about relocating to somewhere out of this geographical region all together. There are a few stipulations that make sense for both of us: I need high speed Internet access for my job, obviously, and we’d really prefer to stay near the coast. Bonnie also wants to be able to visit any place we’d possibly move to in advance, to see if she likes it.
I don’t know if, where or when we’d actually move, frankly — there’s a lot keeping us here, like a nice house, a very extensive support network of friends, family, medical providers and so on.
But a conversation I had with a friend over the weekend did provide me with some clarity about my motivation for thinking about it, though. And I realized one thing for certain: I don’t want to feel like I’m being run out of town.
My friend and her husband are planning to relocate their family to Texas at some point this year. And mentally, I think she’s already moved — she effortlessly rang off a number of good reasons why she and her husband want to go somewhere else, including a number of reasons that I share: The lousy climate in the winter (I hate shoveling snow), the cost of living (absurdly high, given that we’re not in California or metro New York), the lousy public school system, and so on.
This is our ninth year living in Mashpee — we’ve lived here for as long as Emmeline’s been alive. In fact, we moved down when she was only a few days old. It’s a record for me, I think — my mother and I moved around a lot when I was a kid, and no place really felt very “permanent.” When people ask me where I’m from, I really don’t know what to tell them — spent eight years in Milton as a kid, two in Seattle, another five or so in Stoughton, six months in Nashua, a couple of years in Burlington, some time in North Chelmsford. Until we had Emmeline, Bonnie and I shifted around a lot too.
Now, Mashpee isn’t an ideal community for someone with my sensibility — the town is populated by SUV-driving soccer moms and Nascar dads. They’re suburban types with suburban tastes who I just don’t have a lot in common with. And Lord only knows that Bonnie and I have had an inordinate number of problems getting basic services for our kids through the local school system, which many of you have read about to the point of exhaustion. I read the local paper about what the town selectmen are voting on or discussing at meetings, and scratch my head — I don’t usually agree with their positions on issues.
Mashpee is also more than 3,000 miles away from my professional identity. My company is based in San Francisco. What’s more, a lot of our business is based in the Bay Area. Even my father is out in Oakland. So there are valid reasons both professional and personal about why I might be interested in getting closer to California. (For what it’s worth, Bonnie and I have both ruled out California itself as a possibility, but I have fond memories of the Pacific Northwest and would love to go back there some day.)
But the bottom line is that Mashpee is home. It’s home for me and my kids, and it’s fundamentally the only home my kids have ever known.
Displacing our family would have serious consequences. It would take us all out of our comfort level. It would make us start over, just at a time when we’re trying to find some stability in our lives. And stability, especially when you’re dealing with children with emotional problems, is key.
Too many times in my life I’ve moved or quit jobs or made some other major life change because I was tired of the status quo or because I felt like starting over somewhere else made more sense than dealing with the issues I was faced with. And the epiphany I had was that of all the reasons I can think of for moving, that’s now at the bottom of my list, not at the top. The major reason I’d even consider moving is for a better quality of life for me and my kids. So it wasn’t exactly a “eureka” moment, but it does provide me with some peace of mind.