Monday, August 15, 2011

Making a Life Where You Live

by Laura Bickle

I know that it's not terribly glamorous, but I like living in the Midwest.

I moved away from the rural area I grew up in for college, and pretty much stayed in the nearest large city. I had spells where I moved other places for work: a university town, waaay out in the woods, a megalopolis. But to me, there's a sort of happy medium in quality of life to be had in a medium-sized city.

I didn't like living in an uber-large metropolis because the commute was hell and no privacy whatsoever. Sure, there was nice entertainment, like museums, to go to. But when I lived there, I really went only once a season. The rest of the time, I was fighting traffic, paying through the nose for parking, had five roommates, and still bitched about the cost of rent. You couldn't go anywhere alone at night. The day-to-day life wasn't very practical or enjoyable for me on a day-to-day basis. I was exhausted. I'm a person who needs a fair amount of solitude, and I couldn't get the hell away from people. Ever.

Living waaaaaay out in the sticks didn't work for me, either. I returned back to the county I grew up in for a job once upon a time. And it's true what they say about never being able to go home again. I spent one wreched winter in a house that I rented with a vertical driveway from hell and a completely ridiculous set-up with a heat pump external to the house. I used one 300 gallon propane tank each month in the winter (at a cost of about $500 a pop) to keep the house at sixty degrees. And that was when I wasn't groveling to the only propane show in town to put me on the delivery list before I ran out.

And we will not speak of the year-round ladybug invasion that looked like something out of Amityville Horror. Or snakes in the dryer.

So...yeah. I like my medium-size city. There are bookstores. Enough entertainment to keep me occupied when I've got the desire to go to the movies or have a good dinner with friends. I don't have to depend on sketchy propane delivery. There's a suitable degree of anonymity. There are twenty-four hour veterinary clinics for emergencies. I was able to afford my own house in a decent neighborhood without having roommates or neighbors on top of me. My commute to work is about twenty minutes, and I can park on the premesis. There are plenty of jobs. I met my husband online dating in this city, so I can say that the pickings are good in that arena, too.

I like the people here. I have friends to can tomatoes with, see chick flicks, and meet for dessert and coffee. My co-workers are pretty darn awesome. We have a great library, a wonderful comic book shop, farmer's markets, and a great day spa up the street. I feel safe going to the grocery store if the desire for ice cream hits me late at night. My neighborhood is quiet - no loud partiers. I can go for a walk in the evenings and meet an assortment of friendly dogs and their owners.

So...I picked where I did, in short, because it's a good place to a have a quiet home, make a living, enjoy the little pleasures, and be loved.

'Cause when you boil it down, there isn't that much more to life.


  1. I know exactly how you feel. I used to live in Southern Illinois and I remember the lady bugs (Do NOT squish them!!!) and coming home to busted water pipes because the propane delivery forgot I was an auto delivery and I ran out of gas to heat my house with. Never had a snake in the dryer (I'd love to know how that happened) but I had a poisonous one in the water meter hole. My parents had one get in their chimney once.

    I like living on the East Coast much better.

  2. Sounds a lot like Groningen I must say. And all the things you mention are those that I love about living in Groningen as well (apart from canning tomatoes ;-)

  3. D.F...ah, ladybugs are a special treat. They do reek when crushed or killed. Sigh.

    Apparently, snakes can get in your dryer if one does not have mesh or proper closure on the dryer vent. :-S They like to find someplace warm, and dryer was it!

    Sullivan, I would love to visit Groningen someday. I think you've definitely hit the sweet spot! :-)

  4. Aw, love it, Laura! I am learning to appreciate my city, or trying to. I think I'm just stuck in the 'burbs and need to move somewhere with a gaslight district within walking distance :)

    Also, where I grew up we had yearly lady bug invasions. TOTALLY Amityville Horror. And we had a tree right next to the house where two big black snakes lived, and you'd walk out and run smack into them inching their way up the trunk. Creeptastic.

  5. I think to a very large extent, home is where we create it!

    The crazy ladybugs I had were in the walls, attic....they were active all winter. Nothing like awakening in the middle of the night when they drop down from the ceiling on one! Bleh!

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  7. Aaah, the unfun side to city living. Remember when the hours you worked were dictated by rush-hour more than the company's set time?

    I'm still getting used to the lady-bug invasions, but I'd rather have those than big-city roaches. ~shudder~

  8. Ah, yes, KAK. When battling rush hour, I usually pulled for working 7:30 - 4:00 to avoid the big crush. I'd rather eat glass than fight traffic.

    Bleh on bugs. Period. I confess to checking hotel mattresses for bedbugs whenever I travel. Ick, ick, ick.

  9. Lady bugs are so awesome. I find it hard to think of them as a pestilence. We get stink bugs here - they come in during the winter and share the house. I shall ever after think twice when I open the drier though - I hadn't ever thought about that one.

  10. They are not so awesome when there are so many covering the ceiling that you can't see any white. When they drop down on your face while you sleep and fall into your food. They stink.

  11. I stayed at a B&B in Rhode Island once with a ladybug infestation. It was alarmingly creepy, like giant Stay-Puft marshmallow man creepy.

  12. That sounds like a wonderful place to live! Funny too that this the Word Whore topic for the week as the idea of finding where I actually WANT to live has been on my mind. I like in New York City purely out of necessity--I went were the books were. But the longer I stay here, the more I want to get out. But HOW to find that place? Even when you know what "kind" of place you want--that's the tricky part!