Going away for a week, with your life partner, thinking about the life you want to live as a family and making choices about how to achieve that vision as a couple, whilst drinking wine and driving a convertible, is pretty much the most privileged life a human could expect to live.
I improved the week with a bit of yoga, daily meditation and several long scenic walks (no SUP yoga unfortunately). You can achieve the equivalent of 4:1 on childfree days vs childcare days (depending on your definition of “achieve”). Anyway. I have no idea what I did to deserve it but I decided to not question my fortune too closely. I knew I would return to my two awesome little people in only a few days so I wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
First thing I realised was how much the pace of London affects me. I don’t know how I’m going to cope living in a suburb of Seattle. I might find it frustrating and insular. I might want to scream at the daily traffic on my commute. I might avoid the crowds of stay-at-home-mums in every playground and yawn during small talk in the shops. But one thing is for sure, to fit in and make friends, I’m going to have to slow down. I’m not sure how to do that exactly, but it’s something about talking and listening more, doing less in a day, being around nature more and planning ahead less. Perhaps just going with the flow.
The second thing I found out was that I love creativity. Especially the urban creativity you find in the edgy parts of a city. I like finding interesting food in restaurants, discovering new concept bars & events, or browsing shops with books, clothes, and stuff you just don’t see on the high street. I love the drive that I feel to create something new when I’m with entrepreneurial people who don’t see limitations. I just can’t stop spotting new ways for products and businesses to be more successful. And I feel alive when I know that those ideas are different to anything anyone else is doing.
And so I’m going to try and mash it up. I’m going to live in a suburb surrounded by mountains, lakes and family values. And try to find something within myself that I can offer a city of entrepreneurs who value what they stand for, and consider how they do it, as important as how much money they make.
I’m a bit surprised at myself. I left London saying to Mark, “there’s absolutely no way I’m going to move to the suburbs”. I refused to book any school our house viewings there – I just couldn’t see myself loving living there. I’m a city rat. But once we lived the life of new arrivals we felt a distinct difference in the suburbs vs the other more urban neighborhoods. The rat race no longer appealed. Amongst the hills of Issaquah people made eye contact with us, they chatted while they served our coffee and they seemed proud of their community. It felt like they made more of an effort in the suburbs because the city wasn’t on their doorstep. Whereas nearer the city they didn’t need to make the effort because there was always a better, more interesting, option next door. So they just went there instead.
I want to get to know my neighbours, shop locally amongst people who recognise my family, take part in activities with the children that don’t feel like a competition to be smarter/cooler/quicker. And most of all I want to see mountains.
There are so many practical hurdles to overcome before that dream is plausible that it’s laughable. We still need to do a few insignificant things like get a visa, rent the house we built to strangers, pack up our home, transport it to the other side of the world, rent a home in the suburbs, fill it with furniture and the stuff that makes it feel like a home, open a U.S. bank account, sell a car, buy 2 more, leave a public healthcare system with enough admin to get a private one to support us and at some point tell the children.
But those really do seem like insignificant “to-dos” right now. I’m finally able to enjoy the picture in our heads of what we’re doing it all for. We know where we’re headed as a family – to the suburbs (and then 30m
ins on the motor/freeway into town or 30mins in the other direction to the proper mountains). When it comes to actually doing it life may become overwhelming. I will need to remember that, “No matter what, it’ll all be ok. And if it’s not ok we can come home.” Simple. And so let the life admin roll on. Seattle suburbs here we come.