I have a good friend who has found himself in the middle of a housing conundrum. It’s a geographic conundrum, really. It might be a different sort of conundrum, but what is for sure is that it is a conundrum. The appeal of the known has worn off. It no longer feels as useful as it once did. Perhaps it’s time for a change. A drastic, sweeping change. Everything, different. From a city to a small hamlet, from a lake nearby to a mountainside. From the varied experience that has become mundane, to a mundane experience that will, for a while, feel varied. What to do?
When you live in Wisconsin, or Illinois, or Minnesota, or Michigan, there’s a constant tug to explore something new. In winter, this is evidenced most openly on Facebook and other social media. (snows) “Remind me why I live here?” (rains) “I want to be on a beach somewhere!” (hot)“I’m melting, why do we live here?” (cold) “It’s another bitterly cold day in Wisconsin and I can’t feel my fingers!” The seasons change, the complaints adapt to the season, and we roll through the years outwardly wishing for something better. We do this for a while and then we die.
We do this because it’s an easy thing to complain about. It’s the default complaint. It requires no effort. If my problems are here, in this place where I live, then maybe the problems will go away if I move to somewhere else. Another town, that’s the answer. I hate the cold and I hate the wind and I hate the way my car looks when it’s covered in salt. If I move to where it’s warm, and where the wind doesn’t blow, and where they don’t douse the roads in salt, then these problems will disappear and my life will improve. I’ll just move, that’ll solve it.
It’s brown outside. It’s gray outside. It’s ugly. The snow fell and now it’s melting and the sides of the road are littered with winter trash. It’s terrible here, and I want something better. I want sunshine and white snow. I want palm trees and soft beaches. Always wanting something different. It’s what we all do. But what happens when something different isn’t better, it’s just different? What happens when the different that we thought we wanted turns into the known that lacks what we already know?
It’s easy to feel trapped. To feel limited by your surroundings. But it’s only easy to feel that way once you take them for granted. The snow has melted and it’s ugly outside? That’s factually incorrect. The snow has melted but it’s not ugly outside, it’s just different. It’s not bright and blue and green. The lake is locked in a struggle for consistency, some water frozen some not. Is the lake ugly like this? Does it look better when it’s all blowing blue? Of course it looks better then, but does it look terrible now? Only if you want to see it that way. Are 38 degree days useless? Sure they are, but will today be useless because of it? Not at all.
I’d like to suggest something that might seem self serving, but this is my blog and I’m actually only in business for myself, so that shouldn’t seem too out of the ordinary. Perhaps what really bothers those Midwesterners who spend their days pining for something else isn’t the geography of their condition, it’s their housing. If I live in a house that’s dark because it lacks south facing windows, and the winter days feel too dark because of this, what is the root problem here? Is it that some days are cloudy? Or is it that my house doesn’t have the right design?
If I park my car outside at night and wake up in the morning with a coating of ice and snow on the windshield, do I need to be mad at the ice and snow? I’ll take to Facebook to complain about those things, and then wonder aloud why I live here, but wouldn’t it be easier to just try to buy a house with a garage? I know I’ve spent years in houses with and without garages, and I vastly prefer the garage house better. If I dislike the noise of the city I live in, and I hate the cars that park in front of my house and clog my limited view, should I hate the cars and the city and move far away to run from those things? Maybe I should just find a house on a quiet street in a different part of town.
Maybe you really do hate the cold. Maybe you really do hate the clouds. Maybe you really do hate the city. Maybe you really do hate the way the ground looks when winter has ended but spring hasn’t yet begun. But maybe you just need a better house with some woodburning fireplaces, the sort that crackle and hiss when a new log is thrown on it. Maybe you just need a house with southern exposure, so every day feels bright, even when the clouds build. Maybe you don’t hate the city, maybe you just hate the street that you walk every day. Maybe it’s time to find a better street. Maybe it’s just time to find a better house. A different house.