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Condition of the Month: May

May 9, 2014

Being in your twenties is generally a time period in which you move around a lot. So this month, we thought we’d talk about our places of residence. What we like, what we don’t like, and what makes the ideal environment for a 20 something.

cinderslut tile (2) The ideal environment? That’s so hard to answer. I grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where mountains, ocean, rivers, lakes, wine country, and farmland were all within 1-2 hours’ drive. Yes, it rains a lot in Seattle, but the days when it’s clear and sunny are something straight from heaven, and there’s no place on earth I’d rather be. However, for the past two years I have been living in the desert in the Middle East, which is about as different from Seattle as you can possible get in terms of its climate (and its political ideology!). But here’s the thing…I love it too! I love that it is sunny almost every day of the year, because even in the summer when the temperature skyrockets beyond anything I’ve previously experienced, it brightens my mood to see the palm trees swaying slightly in the sun. We live on the Red Sea, so there’s tropical fish galore, clean beaches, and warm turquoise water that looks like something out of a dream. So yeah, it’s pretty great too.

There are a lot of other factors, though, that make my current life as an expat not exactly ideal. While the coastlines are amazing, the cities are dusty, dirty, and gross. The status of women, the restrictions of Islamic law, and the general foreign-ness of everything make it quite un-ideal at times. A lot of things are amazing, like gas being super cheap, not having to pay bills or taxes, and being able to have your house cleaned for $11. If you throw a party you can rent tables and chairs for free, and you get to meet interesting people from all over the world, who have come together to make this unique community. But there’s no major stores for 60+ miles, and I miss my family and friends. You can’t buy alcohol, broccoli is super expensive, and we’re always having to do complicated paperwork for our visas and residence permits, etc.

So what’s my ideal? Long-term I’d love to live in the Seattle area, or maybe Colorado or northern California. I’ll be a resident of my own nation again and have Costco and Amazon and a million other things at my finger-tips. If I could bring some of the Sandbox’s sunshine to the Northwest and take a vacation to someplace warm and exotic every year, that sounds just about perfect. But mostly, in my world travels thusfar, I’ve learned that I can be surprisingly happy almost anywhere as long as I’m with the love of my life and we have a community of friends around us.

snowwhore tileI feel like moving into the big city was one of the best decisions I ever made.  I was just a small town girl(living in a loooooonely wooorld), and I thought I never wanted to leave. I was happy and comfortable growing up.  But I was smart enough to realize that if I stayed where I was, I wouldn’t grow. Everything would be the same, and I would be the same.

Living in a big city has given me so many great opportunities that are important for people in their 20’s.  Of course, there are more job prospects and educational options, but it is so much more than that.  There are so many new experiences waiting for you in a larger, urban environment.  I don’t have to look hard to find new food, new people, new music. There are so many chances to broaden my world. And that is why I’m so happy where I am.  But I know there are other places that would be good for me too. I think what’s important in your twenties is to be in a place where you can explore and learn as much as you can. For some people that means moving to a big city. For others it could be moving to a different country. It can even mean just going to a place where you don’t know a single soul.  I really think that everyone in their 20’s should live in a place that challenges them somehow. Even if it’s just for a little while.

sleeping booty tileWell seeing as I don’t really live anywhere at the moment… I’ll have to answer this one thinking of my life on the road. Have I enjoyed living out of a backpack and taking trains from hostel to hostel for the last three months? Most definitely YES. Has it been easy? No, not particularly. Would I want to keep it up? Probably not. I still have two months left and while I know I’m going to enjoy them, I’ll also be completely happy to go back to a more stable life too. Part of me is feeling slightly anxious to get back to ‘real’ life, excited to ‘get started’ on building a career and community back home.

 

I don’t feel like I’m going to get behind if I spend too much time away, but I do feel a bit like I’m missing out on opportunities to get ahead. I can see how important your twenties are for setting a solid foundation, and it’s important to me to have a good job, good friendships and good habits sooner rather than later.

 

But traveling is also something I think every twenty something needs to do. Maybe everyone doesn’t have to take 36+ trains to see 12 European counties in two months, but every twenty something does need to know how to find their way around an unknown city’s metro system and be able to enjoy the view from the top of a mountain you climbed just because a guy on a train told you to. I’ve seen and felt so many beautiful things on this trip, it’s a shame if other people don’t find a way to reach them as well.

I have no idea where I’ll be three months from now, and while it’s definitely intimidating, I’m not afraid. Maybe it’s because I’m 25 now and I’ve finally learned that change is part of being a twenty something. Sure, it’s not necessarily comfortable, but it’s necessarily powerful. These are the years that we become adults, a little adversity will only make us stronger.
little merskank tileMaybe this is cheesy sounding, but I actually really love where I live now. On the more general side of things, the town (city?) that I live in is perfect for me.  It exists in that middle ground between small town boredom and big city busyness.  There are enough restaurants and shops to provide variety, but not so many as to be overwhelming.  Also, distances are walkable- a fact I love!  Although public transportation is a useful thing, it’s great to be able to go from my house, to my university, to the library, to the grocery store all on foot.  If I could choose, I think I might live in a town about this size the rest of my life.

 
Considering location in a  more specific sense, I also really enjoy the house I live in right now.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I moved into this grand (but dilapidated) victorian house shared with 8 or so other people– but the community I have found here has been great!  The people I live with are very weird and quirky (I wrote a post about it a while ago), and together we have a lot of fun.  Living in a shared house is not very ‘adult’ feeling, and I am sure that at some point I’ll be excited to have my own place (like Cinderslut and Snow Whore already have)–but, for the moment, where I live is great.  Friends, fun, and low rent, what more could a girl ask for?  I am totally staying on for another year.

 

 

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