Thursday, April 03, 2008

collegetown

In a collegetown, there are some rare opportunities. The professor's teaching institution recognizes that the famous folk don't just wander by our area of the world. Instead, there's a cultural enhancement program, run by a friend of mine, who is also an amazing spinner and artist. Each year, the university brings famous people into town to talk to us.

Sometimes the turnout is embarrassingly small...but on Tuesday night, I felt proud to see the entire auditorium fill up to hear Gloria Steinem speak about sexism, racism and the current election cycle. It's no surprise that this woman has had such an amazing effect on women's lives. She is sparkling. Intelligent, clever, and self-possessed, she's a perfect example of what a beautiful smart person looks like...and her presence and ideas make such a difference in the world.

Another lucky part of this experience is that a lot of good and friendly people go to these events. I was driving "up the hill" towards the university when I saw my neighbor and friend. I slowed the car, she hopped in and we got to visit along the way. There are good and bad sides to a small town. You see people you know all the time...but for me, this isn't usually a problem, because I'm always glad to have another friend appear. After the talk, yesterday, I had a visit from a 17 year old friend, a college freshman, who walked over from school, sat and knit on my office couch with Harry and Sally--and we talked about Gloria Steinem. That's such an important exchange, too!

In my last post, I joked about the jughandles and jugheads--the things you just have to get around because you can't relate to them. I have that happen here a lot and I have a hard time relating sometimes. When talking to folks about what I lack in this town, I can see they think I'm too particular, that it's one thing or the other, either this town as an equivalent for all collegetowns, or a huge metropolitan area. I'm not sure I want to give up a collegetown atmosphere in my life, even though big cities offer some of the resources (intellectual and social community, family, healthcare or religious institutions) that I also may need. I'm sad too that sometimes people think that good health care or a like-minded community only exist in a big city, or that I need to just suck it up and be grateful for what I've got. Through my travels, I know I don't have to compromise, that there are places where all this is available, in a town setting!

Of course, it's all a compromise, trying to live where a spouse has the right job, along with everything else. We're wrestling right now with the big issues. Yet, today I was sent a link to this poem, featured in a national syndicated column. Written by a Kentucky poet, it grasps hold of something I don't want to give up in a move to a large city. I want my piece of grass and sun to hang out my quilts and air those pillows, and the space that allows us to maintain these old and effective traditions. I want to pick fruit in the summer, spend a day canning, and eat that precious berry sunshine when it's cold outside. I believe it may be possible to have both, along with the right, highly specialized job for my professor, but I don't know where yet.

Have you contemplated or made a move? (or 3 or 4?) How do you resolve all these decisions for everyone in the family? Advice?

7 Comments:

Blogger Nancy said...

I have never been able to resolve all those issues at once.

April 3, 2008 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Mrs J said...

When we first visited the house our son, then not quite three, stood & looked out of the landing window & said 'I could live in here'. We agreed. The house was empty, it was in a different area to where we had 'logically' looked but it felt right.I would like to think it would happen again if we felt a move was the thing to do.The first house we bought was the 'sensible choice'. I never really enjoyed living there. Go with your instincts.......

April 3, 2008 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

Just do it. I never contemplate moving. I moved to Tennessee from New York one week after I found out my best friend from high school was going and I could tag along. I went to California 8 years later to visit my mother and I never went back to Tennesse, I had my stuff shipped to me. I came to Colorado to visit a friend and moved here 6 months later with my husband (it took that long because we had to sell our house).....

Just do it and don't look back. You are young. You don't have any kids in school to worry about. So, if you hate the new place you can try again somewhere else. It's an adventure.

April 3, 2008 at 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

My own moving experiences tell me that place can indeed have a profound effect on how you feel and what you do (as can one's willingness to accept or reject certain aspects of a place). That said, I do love the college town I live in (Lawrence, Kansas) despite a generally crummy job market. I just hope you and the professor find a place where you can both feel as ease, which doesn't seem to be the case now for you.

April 3, 2008 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

After the divorce and selling the livestock, I knew I could live anywhere I wanted to. I chose a small town 9 yrs ago, moved to a smaller town when M and I married and we have the best of all worlds for us. We can walk around our small town, it's an easy drive to bigger ones and M works locally.

It's the best fit for me here now. 20 yrs ago, it would be sheer hell (I needed the horses then).

I sincerely hope you find the place you need to be.iex

April 4, 2008 at 8:27 AM  
Anonymous AlisonH said...

One thing I've learned, is, once you start talking about moving, it's going to happen. You'll find the right place. Still, once you get there, it takes about a year to feel it's your place, your town now, but the feeling comes. And Donna's right: it's easier to do now, when there are no kids to worry about being taken away from their schools and their friends.

We did make one mistake when we moved to NH: with one baby, we thought schools were way off in the future and didn't choose a town with the best schools. That's part of what triggered our moving away from there four years later.

April 4, 2008 at 6:02 PM  
Anonymous LisaMarie said...

One of my favorite sayings is, "Bloom Where Your Planted". I have used this as a mantra during times when I have felt frustrated or disappointed by present circumstances. This year I have begun to "retreat" to NYC in small spurts at frequent intervals to overload on urban riches. When I go home, I'm grateful for the lack of opportunities.

April 6, 2008 at 8:44 AM  

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