On Friday night, I got an email from a woman who reads this website, who has recently moved from the cool-kids enclave of Vancouver to a teensy tiny town in Northern Ireland where her mom lives. The basic reaction has been: Why would you do such a thing? And this woman is dealing with all the mental seesawing that accompanies such a transition. Why am I doing such a thing? Was it a mistake? Is there something here for me, that I have yet to discover? She talked about what it was like to live in a city whose greatness everyone agreed upon:
“Every time I tell people I’m from Vancouver, I wait for the oohs and aahs that I almost always get. Oh, it’s so beautiful. Yes, yes, yes, I say with pride, as if I’d given birth to it.”
That made me laugh. I totally get that! The pride of other people loving the place you’re from. Such a cheap and easy high. You get hooked on it, and then you move somewhere else and it’s all … blank stare. Nobody knows what to say. It’s awkward. I think people like to oooh and ahhh so much because they just like having something to add to the discussion. My friend Thomas is from Edmonton, Canada, and when he told me that it was like: Uhh, OK. What is an Edmonton?
I think, eventually, you get a weird thrill from people not knowing where you live. From being different than everyone else. A friend who lives in Montana tells me she likes the confusion people express when they discover she has the nerve to build her (highly successful) life outside Los Angeles or New York. Another friend lives in Alpine, Texas, and for years I was all, “WTF are you doing in Alpine?” and then I went to visit and was like, “OHHHH, this is what you’re doing in Alpine.” Because that place was amazing, a little bit like visiting the moon, if it had really great Tex-Mex.
This planet is so big, and there are so places to plant your flag. I plant mine in Dallas these days, and I recently wrote a story about that on The Morning News. But I’d like to engage in a little reader experiment, which I haven’t done in years. Please send me a picture of the place you live, and tell me a little bit about it. You can tell me what you love about it. You can tell me what you hate about it. It can be a place that is two blocks from where I live, or it can be a teensy tiny town in Northern Ireland where I may never visit (but then again, I might!). I’d like to learn more about wherever you have landed. I’d like to learn more about the world, and the people in it, and particularly the ones who are kind enough to stop by these digs on occasion, on their way to someplace else. You can send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.