Relocation Options: Option Three, “Variety Pack”

posted in: Day In The Life, Travel 0
I wanted a picture that communicated "variety pack" and all I got was this terrifying picture of donuts emerging from cups of flavored coffee.
I wanted a picture that communicated “variety pack” and all I got was this terrifying picture of donuts emerging like Swamp Things from cups of flavored coffee. Also, nothing in this picture is anything you should accept into your mouth.

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*
Walden Pond

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.