After eliminating Iowa and Wisconsin from my list of relocation options, and knowing without question that I cannot stay in New York or return to Chicago before mid-June, I face a selection of further possibilities. For a woman with boundless curiosity, no children, and work she can do wherever there is an Internet connection, this list of options might be overwhelming. But I am not overwhelmed because I have very real limitations to consider:
1. I don’t have a car and really don’t want to get one. This rules out a number of extremely cool places, I realize. I’m sure there are folks who live in these places with no car, but for me, looking at this six-month chunk of time before me, I am desirous of a decent public transportation system. Without a metro pass in my wallet, I feel kinda naked.
2. I am a gimp. Several people have — wildly, imaginatively, fabulously — suggested Paris! Dublin! Rome! and these would be fantastic places to go for six months, but I can’t play fast and loose (or foreign) with my health situation. Trying to explain to a Parisian ER doctor that I don’t have a colon and that I might be dying would be difficult, as I do not speak French. It would also be frowned upon, I think, if I asked to Skype into my upcoming teaching gigs and lectures here in the States. Why aren’t people into that?
3. I do like a city. One offer came through for a cabin in Kansas that was so darling and serene-looking that I nearly wavered from my plan. (You do know that I have known for some time what I’m going to do and that I’m unspooling it day by day to torture you, right? Excellent.) But not only do conditions No. 1 & 2 prevent anything too remote, I need the action of a city, the hum of it. I am a person who writes things and likes the opportunity to occasionally read those things onstage. I like a selection of libraries and natural food stores. I like cracked pavement and a skyline. Yes, I could go full Annie Dillard or Thoreau and tap into the hum of nature (probably louder than any city, I realize) but I need to save Walden for my fifties.
So what do these restrictions cancel out? Places icluding, but not limited to:
Anywhere not in the continental U.S.
Most of California*
Let’s recap. For the next six months, I need a U.S. city with a great public transportation system, good hospitals, a vibrant lit scene (including, for example: live lit events, book things, readings, lectures, libraries, etc.) cool architecture, interesting people to observe, and more space than New York City so that I do not bite anyone.
Can you guess where I’m going next month?
*San Francisco fits the criteria but its cost of living is equal to NYC. It pains me to eliminate it, but that’s out.