I might have started with wonder and imagination, but my imagination never brought me out West. My imagination dreamed of a life in the city and thats exactly where I found myself--and loving it.
Wyoming wasn’t love at first sight as one might assume from my previous visits out West. I did suddenly feel like I could breathe, I did find myself in wonder, and I did go home frustrated with the concrete and traffic and amount of people everywhere. But I also was coming home--to the place I had wanted to land. I loved living two blocks away from a magnificent park, and a magnificent farmer’s market. I loved all the huge trees in front of century old houses. I was always pondering what their stories were--what all they had seen and heard, been a witness to, inside their walls and out. I loved the local food restaurant just down the street. I loved that all our friends were basically in the same neighborhood with a few exceptions. I loved being in the part of the city and only 15 minutes away from where my parents grew up. Regularly getting to go past the streets that they called home and that I frequented as a child.
That was the life I had dreamed and made real for myself.
So every time Wyoming came up as a legitimate place we could live I dismissed the idea out of hand. Yes, its beautiful and you can hike and camp there but we can do those things here! Yes, he would say but its different out there. I asked and asked for more details and never got much more than ‘its about the open spaces’. And I didn’t feel satisfied and so put the idea of moving to a remote open spaces with no big cities out of my mind. I didn’t even entertain it with a daydream.
As the years passed I slowly became frustrated with how complicated things seem in the city. So much congested driving and opportunities to buy things everywhere. More stuff will surely make more happiness is the motto on every strip mall, shopping mall, convenience store...which are on every corner. The Target we chose to frequent had an underground parking lot! There wasn’t enough space to have a regular parking lot, so they had to put one in underground. We eventually moved to suburbs and that was worse. Surrounded on two sides by major roads and on one side by a skinny-two-lane-with-no-shoulder road we were stuck inside our little triangle of a neighborhood. Stuck became an even more appropriate word when we were down to one car and the one car had to drive 25 minutes into the city everyday while I was at home with two babies all day long. I would take those two babies in the running stroller my mom graciously bought me and we would run up and then down every street in our three street neighborhood, if I ran for a bit on the major road which was terrifying I could make it home having run just about three miles. Enough to keep my sanity. And then we would walk up and down the streets over and over and over to practice walking. Not being able to get out is the definition of stuck! Friends no longer in the same hood, no longer two blocks away from the fantastic park... Out in the suburbs things are more spread out, less congestion, but also it feels like more somehow. More concrete, more strip malls, more consumerism--less culture.
The mountains of a smaller community started to sound appealing. We could walk places, we could breathe a little. We could hike in the mountains just outside the door instead of driving 40 minutes through the concrete jungle to get to the true-er wilderness lying right outside the limits of the city. We started looking at those towns--the small ones nestled at the foot of mountains. There are quite a few. So we started making lists. Big poster board pros and cons for what each mountain town had to offer. We made a trip to the town I was rooting for. We took our six month old and our 18 month old, rented a car, checked into the cheapest hotels we could find and did our first family vacation. We visited a friend of a friend who has a farm out there. He lived 20 minutes from the town where things were quiet and spread out and lush and green. Hardly any concrete anywhere from the drive out of the city and onto his land. And the mountains! And he had pigs! We fed the pigs as we talked about life would be like out there. We had dinner in the local places, we walked around the town and the neighborhoods smelling it out. Does feel like home? We noticed how friendly or not friendly people were. Took note that there was ethnically true food around (quite delicious) and we drove out to the blue ridge parkway and hiked awhile a long a river. Found parks. And then we drove home and talked and talked and made lists and notes and had thoughts. In the end it was everything I wanted it to be and not quite everything Darkknight wanted it to be. But we thought we would go for it...with no luck. No jobs opened up. So we kept hoping but had to move on.