Over the weekend, I moved into a new apartment. This place has everything: a pool, three hot tubs, a washer/dryer, and an actual bedroom! Not to mention it’s even cheaper than my small studio I’ve been living in for the past two years. “She’s hit the jackpot!” you’d say. “She has it all!!” So why do I feel like I’ve given something up to move out to the ‘suburbs’? I was thinking about that the other night, and I guess I just didn’t realize how much I’d turned into a true city dweller.
For the past 5 years, I’ve kept a small apartment in one city or another. Be it New York or Portland, I never had to count on much more than my own two feet (and the occasional Metro Card) to get me to the very best that each respective city had to offer. Want to go wander around The Met? No problem! Have an inkling to check out the shopping on 23rd? You got it! But moving away from the center of the city changes everything. I can’t as easily meet up with friends for an impromptu happy hour or even take my pup for a stroll along the park blocks. It’s now commuting and pre-planning for me. Not only that, but the sounds are so different. I was lying in my new bed the other night thinking about how terribly quiet everything was. I couldn’t believe it, but I missed the sounds of the cars passing by my window, the beep the bus made when it lowered to pick up passengers on the corner, even the delivery trucks backing up and the banging of a dumpster being hastily picked up and emptied. How did this happen? How is it that these sounds which would grate on many people’s nerves had now become my lullaby as I tried to fall asleep and my alarm clock telling me it was time to get ready for the day?
It’s funny what we get used to, isn’t it? And it doesn’t take long for us to adjust to change. Once I stopped listening to the sound of the pulse in my ears and actually listened to the noises of the night in my new place, I suddenly heard a chorus of frogs where street noise used to be, and in the morning, birds interrupted my slumber instead of the grinding of an engine. It’s a good lesson to remember in life too. We can get so comfortable in the day-to-day, going along from one thing to another without really even thinking about what we’re doing. But what if we were to stop doing the mundane and live consciously? No longer going through the motions but really taking stock in what you want, going out, and doing it. I bet we would have great adventures—you and I—and really learn to appreciate what we have.
I know these are lovely thoughts and fun to imagine, but soon enough, reality sets in and life once again takes over. It’s unrealistic to think that we can just quit our jobs and become a Professional Wanderer, although I must admit it sounds quite nice. But I would bet we could find a balance between living the day-to-day and being a dreamer.
And you know what? In the suburbs—where wild coyotes howl at the sound of a passing siren—I may have just found my balance.