Thoughts from La Jolla
May 25th, 2011

Thank you all for your kind congratulations on my little announcement on Monday.  It is an exciting time in the life of our family and I was likewise excited to share it with you.

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond to your comments as they were written.  I was in the air most of Monday, making my way to the San Diego area for work.  As you can see from the photo below (taken from my hotel room), it’s miserable here.

Paradise aside, this trip has gotten me thinking about the blessings and curses of business travel.  Here I am with enjoying an unparalleled climate, laughs and meals with coworkers, and the luxury of sleeping past 6:00.  And yet at the same time my thoughts drift toward home – toward my husband and my son, both of whom I miss deeply, and toward the tornado-riddled Midwest.

In the midst of these thoughts there is another thought that courses through my head – a thought I have some measure of guilt about: Why can’t I be from here?  Of course, we could move here if we wanted to.  But we can’t move our families and we can’t move our roots.  They are in the Midwest and there’s nothing I can do about that.  There are  many things about the Midwest that I find maddening.  The cold, icy winters and the hot, humid summers.  The politics.  The lack of emphasis on arts.  The poor air quality and the poor public schools.  And yet, the Midwest is where we’re from.  It is home.

I don’t know if we’ll always live in the Midwest.  And in the midst of trips like this, it becomes very easy to imagine a life someplace else.  As avid and eager travelers, GAP and I debate this conundrum often.  We love our life as it is, but we love to imagine our life as it might be in some other place.  We think of all that we would gain, and of all that we would lose.

And this brings me back to my original thought – why can’t we just be from here?  It would make things so much easier.

4 Responses to “Thoughts from La Jolla”

  1. Lori Says:

    Ah, the good ole “the grass is greener on the other side.”

    Sure, the Midwest has icy and humid times, but what about those perfect fall or spring moments? That surprise break from the heat or cold that TRULY make you appreciate being outside? Those evenings when you quickly organize a barbeque because it is simply too beautiful to do anything else but be outside…

    Missouri has such deep roots in jazz – make an effort to find those unique opportunities to enjoy the arts. How can we then include our children and families in those experiences and also encourage there to be more opportunities?

    Air quality…this one confuses me with the many cities on the California coast having that ridiculous haze of smog hanging below the clouds, waiting for the sunrise to burn it off for the day… Same thing on the east coast?

    Public schools. (Since choosing to teach in Missouri, I feel pretty strongly about this topic.) Again, every city and state is searching for ways to improve their schooling. I believe that the Midwest lifestyle brings some key characteristics in what’s important to being a functioning and contributing member of society. The people are good – you need to look no farther than Joplin, MO or even the parking garage today during the tornado warnings to find good people who genuinely care about one another and enjoy the opportunity to make a new friend while “taking cover.” Parents and families are equally important (if not more so) than teachers in educating students.

    But that brings me to my final thought – we can, and do, wish and want for things all of our lives, but in the end, it’s the family and roots that we do have that make us who we are and create happiness and appreciation for life. Would we achieve more happiness and joy out of life if we spent that time appreciating where we were raised, live, started a family, raise our children, etc. instead of thinking living somewhere else would bring us more happiness?

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    It looks beautiful! And of course you miss home, especially now. As for the Midwest versus Anywhere-Else-You-Might-Be, nothing says you can’t relocate at some point. But there are – and will be – trade-offs. As with everything.

    Having moved all over (including overseas), I will say it’s easier when you’re single, but certainly not impossible after. Trade-offs. And you have plenty of time, still, to see how things change in the future.

  3. Gale Says:

    Lori – You make some good points. There are certainly ways in which we could glean more from our current city. And availing ourselves of those opportunities is something we should do more often. But that doesn’t negate the fact that some cities do just have more to offer. As for schools, GAP and I consider it a given that we will be heavily involved in our children’s education. Without that being a variable we would like to augment what we do at home with the best in-school education we can find, and for a variety of reasons we’d like that to be a public education. And yes, of course family is a huge part of what makes life fun and rewarding. And I don’t think that merely living someplace else would bring me more happiness. Rather, I am carefully weighing the trade-offs of either decision. The Midwest certainly has its merits. But so do many other locations. I don’t assume that the Midwest is the best place for me just because it’s where I happen to be now. And if we do decide to pick another location in the future it won’t be because we don’t or can’t appreciate all that we have now. It is a complex and nuanced matter to consider, and I think painting this as a “grass is always greener” situation oversimplifies it a bit.

  4. Cathy Says:

    The grass is always greener… And as someone who lives in California (note I did not say “from”), there are earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires and blizzards. The traffic stinks, taxes and gas are outrageous, they don’t spend any money on the schools and (in my humble opinion) the people here have a strange sense of reality. (For example, people will rent an apartment and drive a Mercedes. Very strange.) I would move away in a heartbeat except the job market here is excellent. And the weather is pretty nice too. Does that help?