Monday, August 12, 2013

Go Beyond

This weekend was another recon mission to Atlanta, trying to determine a suitable place for us to land next year. I grew up in Atlanta and haven't had any desire to move back after I left 13 years ago. Don't get me wrong, Atlanta is a great city, one I love to visit, but the reasons for moving back are at their core only one thing: family. Our families are there and will be expanding in the next year as marriages and moves happen. We want to be close so our children can develop relationships with their aunts, uncles, grandparents, and future cousins.

So, we snuck into town, dropped the baby off with her Moeke and Auntie J, and drove all over creation. We stopped in Marietta Square and had an absolute blast at the farmer's market. I loved it! In an area of only a couple city blocks, I managed to take at least one hundred photographs. Marietta Square is a great place to hang out on the weekend, people watching, petting rescued greyhounds, chatting with strangers who treat you like they've always known you, and houses the most charming selection of oddball shops and cafes. We could easily see ourselves living here. After a croissant (worthy of a cheap Belgian cafe according to Dylan, which is high marks for pastry made stateside) at Sugar Cakes Patisserie, we toured the area to check out houses. Trusty apps at hand, we soon discovered the same depressing fact we discovered on our recon mission to Decatur, another wonderful city with a happening square, the houses are too small for a family of five, too expensive to be worth it, and the schools rate just shy of 'might as well not go to school at all'.

Is this a general truth or a southern city problem? In order to give your children a decent education, you have to live in the middle of nowhere? This catch-22 is beyond disconcerting. Why is it that the vibrant (read non-strip-mall, pre-1950's homes, diverse areas with walkability) rake in some of the highest property taxes, property values, and sales taxes, yet have the worst schools? Why? Am I remiss in believing that if you are capable of paying a couple thousand dollars on a mortgage each month, your children's local school should reflect some prosperity of means? Isn't the education of a society its ultimate foundation? Why is this being accepted as "just the way it is"? An incredibly lazy assertion I've heard many times from otherwise respectable people and no four words make me seethe more. To be fair, these cities have some great schools, but they require living in the depths of the suburban desert, and frankly, I want out of that desert. Do I want inner city living? No, too congested and expensive, but do I want middle ground? Yes.

That yes is my biggest problem right now.

I keep apologizing to my husband, saying things like, "I'm sorry we'll probably end up in boringville where we have to get in the car just to get the mail." He keeps telling me to stop worrying about disappointing him, that he's happy to be near our favorite spots, even if we can't walk or bike to them on a whim (our shared vision of Utopian living). And he's right. The move, the logistics, the situation are not disappointing him. Sure, he'd like to win the lotto so private school is an option and we could live wherever we pleased, but he's not looking at this move the same way I am. Honestly, I'm worried about disappointing myself. But it seems selfish, so I reflect my personal turmoil onto him or onto the kids. Not fair.

After these past several years, I need a new start. A fresh start. A stepping away from the old and jumping head first into the new. So much of my life has changed dramatically, but so many things are still the same, still not quite right, and are holding me back. Imagine having had surgery and your wounds have healed in time, but the stitches weren't completely removed. Little bonds, little bits of once necessary security that held everything in place, but now irritate you when you notice them. I keep wondering if the city I am pining for is out there somewhere- maybe Nashville or Asheville, or why not Montreal, Halifax, Reykjavik, or Ghent? One day, I'll find the right mix. Right now, the priority is schools, but it won't always be this way. No matter where we end up next, we'll make the best of it, because nothing is ever perfect, but I'm deciding that searching for the lifestyle I really want, filled with the things that feed my soul and enrich my life, is not selfish. If anything, it is the correct path, and I need to keep going because this journey isn't over yet.

There are always moments when one feels empty and estranged. 
Such moments are most desirable, 
for it means the soul has cast its moorings
and is sailing for distant places. This is detachment— 
when the old is over and the new has not yet come.  
If you are afraid, the state may be distressing, 
but there is really nothing to be afraid of. 
Remember the instruction: 
Whatever you come across— go beyond. 

Nisargadatta Maharaj

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