Friday, October 19, 2012

Location, Location, Location

As I've thought about the future, I've wondered about moving.  My first response to any element of dissatisfaction with my current life is to consider moving.  What might life be like elsewhere?  Would I finally find my dream job?  Would there be a better cultural climate?  Would I find a network of friends?  Would life be more affordable?

I find it odd that some part of my brain is always packing up the moving van.  When I was young, my family moved a lot, and I HATED starting over.  But the attraction of new beginnings has apparently imprinted itself in my brain.

Intellectually, I know the costs that come with moving--and not just monetary costs.  I once estimated that every move costs me 6 months of writing:  writing that I'm not doing because I'm packing, selling the house, resettling elsewhere--and not sending out writing, not working on larger projects, not following up on inquiries or losing inquiries between addresses (less a factor now, with the Internet).

More than that, I find myself missing what I've left behind.  It's easy to plunge into a full-blown despair.  I find myself missing places that I didn't particularly like when I lived there.

It's not always to appreciate the place I live while I'm there.  Recently I read two articles on Hoppin' John's in Charleston.  This article says, "A year later[after Hurricane Hugo], Hoppin’ John’s would reopen and remain open for another nine years. Debbie Marlowe, Taylor’s longtime friend and the owner of the Wine Shop of Charleston, told me that Hoppin’ John’s was where many folks came to do their research. 'His store was the Internet before the Internet,' she said."

Hoppin' John's once upon a time had more cookbooks than any other store I'd ever been in.  This story tells us about the cookbook of the same name, its author John MartinTaylor and the bookstore:  "In 1986, Taylor opened the store, Hoppin’ John’s, its name a nod to the moniker the budding bookseller had adopted a year earlier when he brought the traditional good-luck dish of rice and beans to a New Year’s Day party. Historian and author Dale Rosengarten, curator at the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston, remembers the store as a 'hole in the wall' filled floor to ceiling with cookbooks. For many years, a steady stream of journalists, chefs and home cooks poured into the store, looking for the right book. Robert Stehling, chef and proprietor of the Hominy Grill in Charleston, recalls visiting the store and watching Taylor scrunch up his face when customers asked for certain books. The owner wasn’t shy about redirecting people to other volumes."

I went to Hoppin' John's bookshop way back in 1993 or so.  I don't remember going back more than once.  I was vaguely aware of the culinary explosion happening in Charleston in the mid 1990's, but by then, my spouse was back in grad school, and we were plotting ways to move to a less conservative part of the country.

I do find it ironic that I now go back to the South Carolina lowcountry once a year to visit a monastery that I didn't even know was there when I lived there.  There are all sorts of resources across the state for people who want to eat locally.  The University of South Carolina now has all sorts of literary stuff going on that it didn't when I went to grad school there.

I also have a spouse who loves living here. If one spouse loves a location and the other is always yearning to live someplace else, maybe it makes sense to stay put where the one spouse is happy.  Maybe I should make more of an effort to remind myself of the advantages of my current location.

I remind myself that I'm in a part of the country that also has a flourishing literary life.  It's hard to eat locally here, unless you want to live on tropical fruits, but that idea would appeal to me if I lived elsewhere.  I worry about hurricanes, but the weather has become problematic in most locations.  I worry about rising sea levels.

Maybe we will live here until the rising seas sweep us away.  Maybe it will happen later rather than sooner.  After all, if my life has much of a lesson up to this point, it's that the catastrophes that overtake me are seldom the ones I expected.

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