Sunday, September 10, 2006


We haven't made any secret about the fact that Jason and I don't intend to live in our current location forever. We stayed in Cleveland for about four years, which was a record for us, one I'm not sure we want to break here. We're used to living several states away from our families, but now that we have a kid, 12 hours is just too far to drive several times a year. Plus, I'm enough of a Northern snob that I really don't want Liza to pick up the nasal Kentucky accent ... the first time she says "Thenk yuuuuu," I'm putting her on the first bus to civilization.

But Jason is happy enough with his job that we won't move unless he finds the "perfect" spot in the right location, so for now we're both content to stay in Richmond a while longer. I'm not exactly heartbroken about the situation, no matter how difficult the commute to our parents' houses is during the holidays. Like I said, there are lots of benefits to living in a small town, and I'm trying to take advantage of as many of them as I can.

This comes to mind because this weekend was the town's "Great American Pottery Festival," which was held at a park within walking distance of our house. In addition to the usual pottery and craft booths, there was a concession area where one of Jason's coworkers manned his "wienie wagon," a big red van he takes to festivals to cook tenderloin sandwiches and funnel cakes. Saturday and Sunday the park was also host to Kids' Fest, a couple of acres of activities and amusements for kids of practically any age. There were games of skill (where the operators would cheat to let every kid win), clowns, puppet shows, inflatable slides and bouncers, a climbing wall, a bungee trampoline, a petting zoo, crafts, and even a tent for toddlers with a sand table and crafts for teeny hands to make.

We've been to the park three times since Friday, and every time Jason eats at the wienie wagon, I eat at the pulled pork barbecue joint and look longingly at the cotton candy vendor, and Liza wants to do nothing but go on the same swings that are at the park every week. We took her down the two-story inflatable slide ... and she wandered right back to the swings. We took her to the sand table ... and she threw the sand on the floor and toddled back to the swings. She sat through five minutes of a puppet show (but only because she was strapped into her stroller and had a mouth full of banana so she couldn't whine), then ... well, you get the picture. Not that we minded - one of us could push her on the swings while the other one went to buy food or shop. It was probably easier than it will be next year when she (hopefully) will want to do everything and look at everything.

Our town has 30,000 residents, even more when you include people in the surrounding county, but at events like this we always run into people we know. That's the sort of thing I would miss if we moved, because it's unlikely that we would be able to afford a nice house in Baltimore or Cleveland that would be in a similar situation where we could walk to a park, see people we know, and eat cheesecake-onna-stick, all in one afternoon. I would miss being on a first-name basis with the children's librarian, and being a "regular" at the coffee shop and the Thai restaurant. I would miss having to leave extra time when I run errands with my daughter so that all the grandmas at Wal-Mart can come tell me how beautiful she is.

There are, of course, many things I wouldn't miss about the area, too, such as not being able to discuss anything private or work-related in public because there's a good chance that whoever we're talking about is somehow related to the person sitting behind us in the restaurant. Oh, and I wouldn't miss having to spend 45 minutes bent over the drain in our driveway, scraping out leaves and bug carcasses and gravel while it hails so hard that it bounces off of my umbrella and ends up down my pants (which is what I was doing in between when I wrote the last paragraph and this one).

I can use the potential to move as an excuse to fix up some things around the house (like the car-sized pile of brush I cut out of the "Heart of Darkness" corner of our backyard this afternoon before the rain started), but Jason can use it as an excuse to not spend too much money on the house (like putting on a $12,000 screened porch). I don't have to be too worried about the school systems here in town because it's unlikely that we'll be here long enough for Liza to get to use them ... but I'm still putting her on the waiting lists for the private schools, anyway.

This is the point where I should say something deep and pithy and wrap this entry up, but I'm out of ideas. I guess you could say that while I want to get out of here, I'm not in any hurry to do it tomorrow. In fact, we wouldn't have to move at all, if we could just convince all of our family and friends to move to Kentucky ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments for the "don't worry about it too much" column.

On accents: My wife was given a New York City accent by her parents even though she lived in Maryland. The Maryland school system's desire to rhyme "pin" with "pen" was too much for my wife's parents so they gave her their NYC accent. But the point is, you have influence on the resulting accent. Similarly, my accent is substantially different from my brother's because I spent the decade after college living in Boston while he spent that same decade living in West Virginia. The hometown accent is flexible.

On Kentucky: At least it ain't Texas (where I currently reside).

On Swings: My 4-year-old would still spend her life in a swing. My 7-year-old never cared about swings.

On Community: Even in Dallas suburbia, the folks at the Thai restaurant know me. The folks at the grocery store ask about my kids. My point is that you can create a small-town community in suburbia. Oh, and the craft fairs are really bad in Dallas-area. But I have 6 sushi restaurants within a short radius of home.

On schools: You're going to have issues with the school system no matter where you live. Even in the best school district, you're going to need to be your child's advocate. Finding the right teacher is more important than finding the right school system.