Friday, February 10, 2012

Committing to Austin

It's no secret that I had a rough time this past fall.  The persistent drought, the oppressive heat, and the lack of a clear career direction left me in a mild depression.  I may not have been clinically depressed, but I was certainly not myself.  

Henry and I were planning to buy a house when our lease was up this May, but after those dark months I could not bear the thought of staying for here long enough to make owning profitable.  Then came the mild winter, which brought with it some much needed objectivity.  Honestly?  Austin is not my ideal location to put down roots.  It's in Texas, the climate is unbearable, our families live states away, and it's a large city when we're small town folks.  That said, Henry loves his job.  It's his dream job.  While it's not in our dream location, it's hard to ignore the positive aspects of this situation.  He has a job he is passionate about, with coworkers he enjoys, where he can use his many skills, all while contributing to a better world.  The likelihood that he would find a comparable opportunity in his field in either my hometown (my first choice for a relocation) or his home state is slim at best.  Since I am planning to be a stay at home mom (I can just state for the record that that term is not my favorite?) come June, it is logical that our location choice be largely centered on Henry's work.  Even if we were to disregard the positives of his employment, I could make a case for Austin based on my interests.  This city has vast opportunities to become involved in the local food movement through its variety of farms, non-profits, and markets.  I have needed to accept that fact that Austin while not ideal, is not the hellhole I have made it out to be in my head.  Holding onto the hope that we would be moving in two years was both unrealistic and keeping me from fully committing to living my life here.

Well folks, I am ready to commit.  Am I terrified that I am only feeling this way because I am enjoying the mild winter (temps in the 70s and consistent rainfall... what?!) and that the cloud of darkness will find me in the height of summer?  Or that I am letting my desire for homeownership (oh, to have a yard in which to garden) color my view of reality?  In a word, yes.  While I do not want to diminish the importance of climate and place on happiness, I also believe that happiness is a choice.  Since the fall, I have been choosing to be less than happy because I didn't want to like living here; I wanted to move back home.  I have come to realize I was holding myself back.

Home ownership is both exciting a scary.  Henry and I are in the midst of trying to determine where we'll be moving in May.  A big question right now is whether ownership is important enough that we are willing to move to a less central location.  I love that I can walk to the grocery store and the library (although the library is a bit of a trek on foot).  As much as we are advocates of bicycle transportation, I much prefer to walk.  Forcing myself into a situation where biking is the only option sends me into a slight panic.  Renting is not our preference at this point, but it might be worth it to shell out the extra cash each month to rent a small house in a central neighborhood than to face the inconvenience of a longer commute.

A final complicating factor is our interest in a pocket community that may be starting in the next year.  We learned about cohousing this past summer from a good friend.  The idea of living in a place that values community while still maintaining private ownership is appealing to both of us, especially as we embark on the adventure of parenting.

Figuring it all out feels overwhelming at times, but I know that is part of the process.  Right now I am enjoying sharing the excitement with Henry as we discuss the multitude of possibilities.