The Grass isn’t Always Greener

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Tomorrow, we must return from vacation.  To be honest, I’m kind of ready.  I love travel and I love seeing new things and imagining life in different parts of the country.  There has been a lot to see and do here and we’ve had a good time.  But, I kind of like the stability of home base.  And, I miss my dogs.  And, I’m ready to dance again.

One of the things that I always do on vacation is to try and imagine what it would be like to live in the place we are visiting.  At first glance, it always seems like these places have far more to offer than the corn and bean fields that surround my home town.  But I also realize that when you travel, you generally get to see all the highlights in a short period of time and it just seems like there is so much to do.  I could list several attractions in my current residence so it is not like it a wasteland.  To be fair, we don’t have the mountains that ring this city and if you drive 20 miles from the city center, you’ll be surrounded by farms and not ski resorts.

Another advantage for me with a vacation is that we tend to stay near the action.  As I mentioned before, we are in Salt Lake City and staying downtown.  Which meant it was walking distance to see Temple Square (and the cute Mormon missionaries who politely tried to convert us to their ways).  And we were roughly equidistant from things around Salt Lake and the mountains to the east of the city.   So it was easy to get to places

But, if you live in a place, selecting a house is a lot more challenging than finding a hotel.  There is always the balancing act between finding a place where the drive to work isn’t a royal pain and finding a place you actually like to live.  Throw in the restriction of finding a place you can afford and sometimes you end up so far away from the action, that it becomes a chore to see what the central city offers.

And, when you are working, it severely limits your free time.  (For me, it is even more complicated since I’m at a dance studio four nights a week)  So, if you are like me, you generally spend one of the weekend days doing all the assorted things that have piled up over the week that couldn’t get done which takes another day away.  That leaves you a day to enjoy all of the various things that a city has to offer.  Unless, you have yard work or other things to take care of around the house.  Or, if you are like me, and just tired of being around people all week and just want a day to relax.  Or if it is football season and you have to watch Red Zone to see how your fantasy team is doing.  Tough choices.  We have a wonderful zoo in our town and we are members because we are into that kind of thing.  The sad thing is we may go 3-4 times a year just because there are too many other things that get in the way.

Where was I going with this?  Guess it gets back to the title.  When you are on vacation in a place, all you are focused on is seeing the sights and attractions and it can become easy to think about how wonderful it would be to live there.  But, unless you are retired, work is going to suck away a significant amount of your time and you won’t always get to take full advantage of all the wonderful things a place has to offer.

While I’m on the subject, there is one part of travel that I find a little depressing.  Drive the interstates around most large cities in the country and you will find areas that could really be in any city in the country.  Exit after exit of the same set of fast food restaurant, fast casual “family” places, gas stations, hotel chains and strip malls full of the same big box stores.  The names of the various strip malls change and sometimes they try to incorporate a little local color but it is mostly like lipstick on a pig – just trying to cover up that fact that it is the same bland collection of stores you could find anywhere else in the country.  There is an annoying sameness to all of these places that bothers me as an individualist.  (Who goes to the largest chain coffee store – yes I know sometimes things bother me but I don’t act on them)  Granted, in Salt Lake City, you can always see the mountains to the east of the city and you know you aren’t in Wichita but, other than that, there really isn’t much difference.

I’m not begrudging anyone a place to live.  You come to cities like this because that is where the jobs are and there are a lot of things to do.  But, then the life arc is to get married, have kids and start looking for a place to put down roots.  At that point, things like “good schools” and maybe “low taxes” and “new homes” become important and that just drives people to the endless parade of suburbs that circle every city in the country where you have the strip malls with the same set of stores that are needed to support the population.  But these places are essentially interchangeable with other similar places all around the country.

I guess it is just me being nostalgic for a time that doesn’t exist anymore.  I suppose it is just a natural progression.  Land is cleared for farms and as the cities continue to sprawl as more and more people want to live in big cities, the farms are turned into subdivisions.  Or, like they do here, they build into the mountains surrounding the city to provide homes for those who can afford them even though the scars on the mountains are ugly.  I know we have a lot of land in this country but I kind of feel we lose something every time a farm or field or forest is cleared to create another bland subdivision that really has no character.

OK, I have no idea where all that came from.  Just some things I thought of as we drove around the city and surrounding areas.  This is a beautiful place and there is much to see and do here.  But it isn’t home and I’m ready to go home.

Just for fun, this was from the 80’s.  Things are probably a lot worse now.


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