Moving to the City, Dagnabbit
January 30, 2014
Right now we’re living 2.5 hours East of Seattle and 3.5 hours NE of Portland. The town is called Yakima. Maybe you’ve seen the episode of iCarly where Carly’s Grandfather comes to visit from Yakima. Yes, that’s us.
I’d like to move to the city.
For the past eleven years I’ve been holding out hope that eventually we’d move out of this town but so far it hasn’t happened yet.
Not for lack of trying, though. In 2008 I actually signed a lease on a house in Tacoma and paid a deposit and we never moved in. That decision was made by my ex husband, who thought it would be better to build a third restaurant without a contract and not get paid for his time and energy. Instead of moving to a bigger city, we ended up moving to a dilapidated house in the country, 12 miles from town. In his defense, he didn’t know that the lack-of-contract would have such disastrous results.
There are more jobs on that side of the mountains, the culture is more diverse, there are a ton more educational opportunities for the kids and more things to do and places to go and things to see. Plus, stuff naturally grows there and in my mind that’s proof that God intends for humans to live there.
I’m not well-suited for small-town life and I don’t think it’s particularly good for children. I know a lot of people disagree. What some call “small-town values” I often interpret as bigotry, sexism, racism and small-mindedness. I’m not conservative politically or religiously and the town we live in is very much a haven for people I disagree with on most issues. The high school my daughter goes to refuses to allow a student to start an LGBTQ club. The “sex ed” classes here press for abstinence and no one has complained. The winter pageants at school were very very religious in nature, like they didn’t even TRY separating church and state. I don’t feel like I’m “at home” when I drive down the streets here. Familiarity hasn’t worn away the sharp edges of feeling like an outsider in a strange land.
We’ve been commuting to the Portland area for school. For those of you who don’t know what this is all about, it’s an alternative program that’s meant to support homeschooling. Last term we went for three days a week and this term we’re going for two days a week. It’s a long drive but the entire time we’re there we end up wishing we could live in a bigger city.
The only problem is that we love love love our house here in Yakima. Real estate here is so much cheaper than in either city. The odds of finding a place in either city that gives us this much room plus the pool and the yard are really slim to none. Unless we want to spend millions of dollars which is insane and out of the question. The kids and I all agree that we could sacrifice the yard and the pool as a happy tradeoff for living in the city but then I imagine the nightmare of actually packing and moving all of our stuff. Yikes. But still… it would be so nice to be closer to the city. I can barely afford our life right now, so I can’t even imagine how I’d afford our life somewhere with significantly insanely more expensive living expenses. You have no idea.
And the other only problem is that their father lives here and I’d have to drive them back for visitation every other weekend. Although commuting once every two weeks is different than commuting three times every two weeks. I say three because we go to school once a week and when the girls are with their dad I’m usually in Seattle. So actually, a life in Seattle would be LESS driving than we’re currently used to. Driving a Prius this means an extra $40 a month in gas. Which isn’t much. But still. It’s something.
So right now, where it stands is that we all want out of Yakima. My social life here isn’t improving. I have a handful of mom friends I really enjoy and our friendships wouldn’t be tainted by me moving because I so rarely see them anyway. Also, if I knew I was coming every other Friday to deliver my kids to their Dad I’d totally make lunch or dinner plans with a friend here just to stay in touch.
The kids don’t have all of the opportunities they would have in a bigger city. And neither do I.
I’m inclined to choose Seattle over Portland because Seattle has been my dream for like 18 years. We lived in Lynnwood (8 miles N of Seattle) when my second daughter was a baby and for some reason, I never “felt” “home” as much as when we were there. I loved the weather, the plants, the air, the people and the vibe. Yes, I used the word vibe. You’ve gotta admit, every city has a vibe. I like Seattle’s vibe.
I like Portland’s vibe too but for some reason I like the bigness of Seattle more. I spent a lot of time in Portland with a friend last summer and I think I’ve had enough of it. And with all of the time we’ve spent in Portland, and the friends we’ve made at the school, I can’t help but notice that my earning potential in Portland doesn’t seem to be that much higher than here in Yakima. Seattle seems to be a place where I could make better money and with all these kids and all these orthodontist bills and crazy car insurance for teenage drivers and their insistence on eating several times a day… making money seems like an important consideration.
So. As a single woman who is trying really hard to be financially self-sufficient, I think my odds of being gainfully employed are higher in Seattle than in Portland. Even if I were working as a waitress I suspect that the Seattle tips would be higher than the Portland tips.
Why do I think so hard about something that might not be an option in life?
Because it keeps me going. It gives me something to look forward to, something to fantasize about when the monotony of writing web content for other people’s businesses has my brain melting out of my ears.
Another thing that keeps me going is dreaming of upcoming travel plans. Right now it’s my childless July whereby I plan to go somewhere awesome. I wanted it to be Thailand because one of the companies I’ve been writing for is a resort/ tour company in Thailand but I learned that it’s monsoon season, so that’s probably not the best place to be. Imagining myself traipsing through the Mediterranean, or hiking in Austria or renting a flat in London for a few weeks… fantasies like this keep me going sometimes. Lately the fantasy is Mexico. I guess we’ll see.
But a girl who can’t afford to move to the city shouldn’t really be fantasizing about taking elaborate trips. It’s not like I haven’t been anywhere lately. I went to Victoria and I went to LA with my kids. My travel needs have been met more in the past 2 years than ever before. I actually have a considerable amount of frequent flyer miles racked up. I’ve flown down to LA a few times, I’ve been to Vegas a few times, I’ve been able to travel. But coming home to Yakima always leaves me feeling empty.
So. The big plan, the plan for the past 18 years… to move to Seattle. I feel like I need to make that a more active fantasy.
Living in Seattle will make socializing easier. Another fantasy of mine is having friends so close that they come over for dinner all the time and we go out for drinks and dinner all the time. This isn’t a thing in Yakima, especially for a single mom. Going out with friends and laughter and drinks is one of my favorite things about unschooling conferences. I wish I could remember the name of the family Evie and I had dinner with last year, they live near Seattle. It seems like the people I click with the most are Seattleites. Dinner with friends; nothing is better than breaking gluten free bread with people you admire and respect and enjoy. It’s something I always wanted when we were married and I was always OK with NOT HAVING only because he was growing pot and it was illegal. Anyone I respected and admired would have flipped their shit to see our dilapidated house and greenhouse full of weed. But I’m single now and I have fun furniture and a house full of love and peace and warmth and happiness and I love having friends over to share it with.
Living in Seattle will make it easier to keep the kids engaged in their passions. That one is easy. Bigger community = more opportunities. They don’t have a Village Home School like Portland has, but they do have democratic private schools, like Clearwater School in Bothell and Puget Sound Community School in Seattle. Sending the kids full time would make it easier for me to work full time. Knowing they’re in an environment that honors them as individuals would feel so much better than Yakima Public Schools. So even though their schooling would cost a bit more than Village Home School costs, I’d be able to make more money so maybe that would balance out. Another option is hiring a nanny or mother’s helper so I can make money while they’re self-studying, playing games, reading or taking classes. So there’s an option. But it all involves making more money.
Living in Seattle will fulfill an 18 year fantasy of returning to Seattle. When you want something for so long, how can you change your mind? At this point, if I chose Portland over Seattle, I think I’m so used to feeling a desire for Seattle that I’d still be uneasy. Portland doesn’t feel like home. In fact every week when we’re there for school I feel like we’re just visiting. But Seattle still feels like home after all of these years.
When my husband and I first separated, I had no way of knowing how awesome life would become and how everything would fall into place to make life easier.
I think I need to trust that things will continue to change for the better and that we will end up in Seattle shortly, and that all the details will work out.
I think part of my wanting to enjoy social times with friends I love and respect and admire comes from feeling so alone here in Yakima. There are only like 8-10 people here that I really would want to spend a significant amount of time with. When we lived in Lynnwood, it seems like all of my friends were so much closer to my heart.
When you’re weird it’s hard to connect with people. I feel disconnected here.
I don’t feel disconnected in Portland or in Seattle. In fact, even when I’m in Yakima I still feel connected to Seattle.
Leaving Yakima has never sounded unattractive, except during the limbo that was resolving an official divorce and parenting plan. Now that that’s resolved, we’re free to do what we’ve always wanted in life.
So then it’s settled.
I don’t know how and I don’t know when but the “moving to Seattle” plan is back in action. We all want this. It’s good for all of us.
The odds of suddenly growing to feel like Yakima is “home” are slim to none.
The odds of regretting (much like the current regret) staying here for so long are very high. Sometimes I wonder if we had moved to Tacoma back in 2008 would the marriage have crumbled so horribly? Would life have been better? It’s hard to say.
Life is good right now, it’s never been better. The loneliness I feel right now has nothing to do with a man in my house not seeing me or loving me and everything to do with feeling alone in a sea of Yakima. I have no desire to date anyone who lives here. Even going out for a drink here is less fun than in the city because here there’s no taking-a-cab-home unless you want to spend a fortune. There’s no walking to a bus stop or train at midnight. I want to be somewhere walkable. I’ve been to every restaurant in Yakima. I don’t think it’s possible to live in Seattle for 11 years and have visited every restaurant. Every single one of them. Each and every one. It’s not impressive, see… it’s just a small town.
I can do this. I’ve pulled off amazing things before.
I can do this for my kids, I’ve pulled off amazing things for them. My kids deserve this. I deserve this. I just keep picturing familiarity with museums, zoos and galleries. Classes and workshops and apprenticeships and bright shiny futures full of everything they want to do and be.
I can do this.
Gonna do this.
Gotta do this.
Gotta get my kids to Seattle.
And of course my first step is to write about it. Welcome to my brain.
And for the record, let all of the forces in the Universe know that I donated to a friend’s Indiegogo campaign to get her moved to Seattle because she, like me, knows it’s where she wants to be. And she made it. So I will, too.