Photo Credit: GoGo Charters
On a recent Thanksgiving trip to New York, where I lived until twenty-eight years old, I found myself in a typical discussion that comes up when visiting either coast, why don’t you guys move back? The same question arose over and over on a family road trip through California this past summer, where we also lived for more than fifteen years. I noticed myself feeling miffed by the tone of the question. The assumption is that we want to. And listen, I had the same tone when living in New York. I get how, when you’re there, it’s hard to imagine life being as civilized anywhere else. You think the food is the best. You think the culture is the best. You believe there’s a sophistication that’s upper tier. At least, I did anyway. And there’s a certain truth to these points.
But there comes a time, after the move when the dust rests and you’ve adjusted to how long it takes anyone anywhere to pour a cup of coffee or toast a bagel. You begin to notice that your conversations have shifted and so has your pace. Along with the latter two, you notice that maybe, you’re actually interested in what your lunch date is sharing. And they’re interested right back. You’re not competing or trying to top their interests, you’re just being you, listening to what’s important to someone else.
Here in Austin, you may find yourself eating a mushroom burger at one of the regular backyard parties you attend or connecting with your friend’s child, like really connecting. Or taking a walk around Town Lake with a new friend rather than meeting at a bar. You might even be swinging on a hammock in your own spacious backyard or slowly rocking in a handmade wooden rocker with a girlfriend.
You’ll find that life is different here. For me right now, it’s better. Timely. I enjoy the room I have to think and build and create my life. I enjoy the friends that care and show up and bring a dish to the party and even help clean up after a busy evening of hosting. They might even ask if they can come back tomorrow to help again. Really.
You’ll notice that you can raise your kids in a community. That your kids are watched out for. You may even find yourself laughing. A lot. And out loud at the funny thing, your friend’s child or your own has done. It's because you can breathe. You’re not in a rush every second of your life. You realize no one cares where you’ve been, who you’ve been, and what you’ve done because they just like you right here, right now. The end.
I’m no angel I still get irked when my coastal friends act as if they’re almost apologetic for where we live. As if the annual fires, the waiting for a taxi in the rain, the rivalry, the monotonous need for more and more money, which is never enough because someone else always has more, is so much better than the ease we enjoy here. I find myself defending my city. I’m an ex-New Yorker after all. The competition lives on in me.
Life has a quieter, softer pulse these days. It may be enjoying a swim with your kids in your own pool, hosting a dinner, or showing a property the buyers can actually afford and even have money to spare. I enjoy the ease of roomy farmer’s markets and the lack of classism. Parties here include everyone from the plumber down the street to the tech millionaire many times over. I find people are more concerned with who you are rather than what you’re doing, which doesn’t mean they're not doing a lot. This is an entrepreneurial town full of forward-thinking individuals who have the mental capacity and time to create or decorate a tree on the side of the road at Christmas time, a delightful pastime here in Austin.