I was born in Northern California and spent my childhood in endless golden sunshine, heavily chlorinated backyard pools, seething Sacramento heat, and Santa Cruz surf. Until my parents “made” us move to Washington state right before my 13th birthday. Cue me telling friends and family that they were moving, but I wasn’t moving. Mature.
From ages 13 to 30, I lived in and around Seattle. It took me a few years to truly appreciate the Evergreen State, but, let me tell you: it is a magical place. Natural beauty is abundant (Ocean! Two mountain ranges! One giant active volcano! Forestry! Lakes! Rivers!), and so is super fresh sashimi and other “essentials”. No wonder the real estate market is skyrocketing.
All this to say, I never imagined myself living anywhere else. My entire extended family on my dad’s side lives in San Jose, CA, and my immediate family lives in the Seattle area. Nevertheless, I did move away. I left that West Coast that I love so dearly. I left it for the man I love more than words can say: my husband.
First, we lived in Pittsburgh for a year. We knew it would be temporary, so we rented an apartment with twice the square footage of our Seattle condo, for the same price as our previous mortgage. That was a good introduction to housing markets outside of the West Coast!
Then came the biggest change of all: we moved to the Midwest. For my husband’s dream job. For good.
If someone had told me five years ago that I would be a permanent resident of Springfield, Illinois, I would have laughed it up. And yet, here we are, making a life for ourselves and for our daughter among the cornfields in the Land of Lincoln.
No offense to my fellow Midwesterners, newbies and lifers alike, but there was one thing I never expected about Midwest living: to actually like it!
Yes, busy downtown streets and million dollar rooftop views have been replaced with extra wide highways and sprawling suburbia, but that’s okay!
The living is easy.
There is NO TRAFFIC. Seriously. I can get from one side of town to the other in 15 minutes, regardless of the time of day. No more planning my day/evening based on traffic patterns and avoiding the dreaded Denny Triangle.
The people ARE NICE. Not fake Seattle nice, but genuinely kind.
On our first few days here, we had rented a Suburban (I know, right? Way to blend in). My husband was about to unload groceries out of this behemoth of a vehicle, when a six pack of Blue Moon came crashing down out of the trunk and all over our driveway. It was a mess of epic proportions, since broken glass, beer, and 90+ degree weather were involved. We didn’t even have a broom, a hose or a bucket to our name.
One of our neighbors witnessed the catastrophe and immediately came over to offer assistance. We ended up taking him up on his broom/bucket loaner offer. Then he asked us if we like pulled pork. We are people who say yes to pulled pork. The next day, his wife brought over home smoked pulled pork, coleslaw made from scratch, and sandwich buns. It was such a sweet gesture that made us feel incredibly welcome.
Those aren’t the only kind of neighbors we have here. There is WILDLIFE in our backyard. In Seattle, we didn’t have a yard. We had an alley, and it wasn’t very appealing. In our backyard here in Springfield, I have seen all manner of wildlife, including: squirrels, bunnies, cardinals, blue jays, and one brazen beaver that trounces around eating our grass like he owns the place. I assume it’s a ‘he’ with commitment issues, since every time I try to get close to him (for a good photograph), he runs away. Hah.
Finally, it’s a very family-oriented town. Everyone seems to either be pregnant or have children. Now that we have a family of our own, a feeling of community matters to us.
So, Midwest—I didn’t think we would get along, but I am happy to say that we do. Life is funny that way.
Have you ever uttered the words, “I would never…”, only to later eat those words?