|Me vs The Midwest or Three blizzards and one ice storm is not my idea of a good time.
||[Nov. 1st, 2010|11:57 am]
"The goals we pursue are always veiled. A girl who longs for marriage longs for something she knows nothing about. The boy who hankers after fame has no idea what fame is. The thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us."|
-The Unbearable Lightness of Being
As a child growing up in Kentucky I lived for snow days. I would wake up at the crack of dawn, tune the TV to the weather channel, and wait with the biggest, most hopeful, devilish smile on my face. Cold days and canceled school made for an excuse to throw logs on the fire, make mugs of cocoa, and fill the whole house with the smell of burning wood and a kind of warmth no gas heating system could ever replicate. I remember counting down the days until Christmas and crossing my fingers that it would be white. Thinking to myself how "perfect, picturesque, and damn near Rockwellian" everything was as ice crunched under my sneakers and I precariously balanced a stack of shiny, brightly wrapped presents in my tiny arms, walking across my aunts front lawn.
In my adolescent years, I bemoaned that there was never enough snow to build a snowman. Settling for forts and angels, instead. Then, when I moved to Chicago and it was available in abundance, there was the issue of not having a yard. Now, living in Iowa, I have both. But you won't see me outside assembling my very own Frosty any time soon. It's too cold. I'm too bitter. Too concerned about the very real threat of wind burn. Frosty is effing overrated.
Last year in the first week of a December a blizzard rolled through Des Moines, blanketing the city in over two feet of snow. Chris and I watched as five buses, one after the other, got stuck in the road next to the house. We watched Up and snacked on food from the nearest convenience store, which we finally caved and walked more than half a mile to get to when my throat started to feel like it was eating itself from being cooped up sans rations for so long. Those very first flakes didn't melt until some time in April. Welcome to the midwest.
Today is the first of November. Today when I rode my bicycle into work I bundled into my heavy coat, scarf, tobogan, gloves, and leg warmers. While I was vaguely worried I would be hot and sweaty by the time I reached work, it never really happened. This and the fact that I will soon be dragging Cora, my other bike, off the porch and tuning her up, throwing on a disc brake and knobbier tires, can only mean one thing; winter is seriously looming on the horizon. This will be my fifth winter living in the midwest and I can't lie, the kid who used to live for snow days is long gone.
This is never something I really wanted for myself. For as long as I can remember I was a west coast girl. Sure, there were the fleeting fantasies of beautiful New England locale with it's sail boats, seafood, and foliage. The passing daydreams of New York sky rises, Grenwich village coffee houses, various world cuisine from street carts, shimmering lights for miles. But they always faded, leaving me with my aching love for sun kissed skin, salty air, and palm tree lined traffic. I don't remember what my first exposure of Southern California was that instilled this dreamy idyllic scene in my head, maybe The Parent trap, or Billboard Dad, or My Girl 2. But even after finally seeing the ocean for myself and spending a week in a townhouse on the beach my senior year of high school, only to find that saltwater waves and sand were not all I'd built them up to be, it was still my dream.
Part of me realizes, of course, no place will ever live up to my movie manufactured expectations entirely. And that sometimes, you grow to love the places you least expected. The first time I visited Chicago, I remember thinking how underwhelmed I was as we drove across the bridge and all around I saw rusting train tracks with cars seemingly abandoned upon them, half built buildings bearing their skeletal structures, and cranes with their necks crooked and reaching nearby like wounded giraffe. Everything seemed in this state of abandon and unfinish. When I would drive back three months later, I'd swear nothing had changed. Even when I took the tour of my college campus, as beautiful as the handpainted murals on the walls and student work peeking out from classroom window panes were, I couldn't help but feel like I was settling for so much less. In three years, however, I grew to love the metal gargoyle construction sites, never felt so comfortable as I did when curled in a ball in the overstuffed chairs in the film building, sleeping between classes. I've been thinking about school a lot lately and how much I miss the little things, like bad coffee and delicious danish from the cafe. The gray floor and orange walls of the Wabash building. It can quickly overwhelm me with sadness and push me to tears, so I try not to think about it. I can't help but feel like my college experience is a huge part of my life that remains an open wound from never really getting proper closure. But I digress. What was I talking about? Oh, snow.
Chris, love him though I do, can sometimes be like me in that he falls in love with ideas and always has a million of them and will throw himself head first into the details the moment something catches his attention. However, he also has a tendency to be fickle and change his mind like some people change their nail color. The other day on one of our routine excursions to Stop 'n Rob we were discussing our mutual hatred for snow and how we'd be prepared to pick up and move to warmer climates on no notice if we had enough money saved. When he got home he actually took the initiative of looking through job ads and apartment listings in Austin, TX, even getting price quotes of moving trucks and he seemed really excited and serious.
This wouldn't be the first time I'd humored the idea of moving to Austin. While it used to be the lonestar state didn't even make my short list for places I'd like to live, that's shifted recently. In the spring I spent weeks researching and reading forums about Austin, Portland, and Seattle. Debating the pros and cons of the rain of the Pacific Northwest versus the Republican demographic of the south. How cold each got in the winter, how much sun they received, how flat and well kept their pavement was. Although in the past few months my moving desires had slipped somewhat to the wayside and been put on hold, they never abated entirely, remaining in the back of my mind. So, when I saw Chris getting on board and our desires converging, I got excited too. Then, another idea came along, and now he's knee deep in prospective business plans that would surely keep him in Des Moines for several more years. While I'm still supportive of his endeavors and always prefer he do what he thinks will make him happy, part of me is still feeling nagging pains of selfishness. I want to whine like a child.
"But what about Austin? What about escaping the horrible winter? What about the cool progressive music and bike scene full of people who actually go out and do things? What about actually having things to do? What about Austin?"
Of course from an economic standpoint I get why he is into the idea of starting his own business, and I do believe his idea would be a relatively successful one. But, I don't want to keep living here for ten more years. Nor, do I want to move to a completely foreign state all by myself, leaving the love of my life behind. So, what do I do? Try to convince myself that maybe winter won't be so bad this year? Remind myself that Austin probably has problems and people and things that would drive me nuts, just like any other city? Think about the savings I'm slowly developing that won't be emptied in one fell swoop from paying moving expenses?
I don't know, really. I guess partly, I'm just tired of being someone who talks about things but never does them. And partly, that I don't feel like I'm doing much with my life here and it's causing me to lose self-confidence in how I'm spending my years. I just want a change in my life. Maybe moving a thousand miles away isn't the right one. Maybe it is. I can't say. I just want my life to feel... worthwhile. Less like I'm going through the motions and lying to myself that I find mediocrity satisfying, that hey, it could be so much worse, when I don't and sure, it could, but who cares? I am a child of the x generation. I want everything this world has to offer me, everything I feel was promised to me as a child, and I want it NOW. Not tomorrow. It's just a matter of figuring out how to get it.