According to Plan
Updated: Dec 13, 2018
We are no longer searching for the perfect place.
We are no longer traveling from town to town trying to figure out, “Could this be our town?”
We are officially slowing down, and even though we have a few more stops on our grand tour of the country, we have an inkling of where we are heading at the end.
As we finish up what we lovingly call Phase 1 of our trip (Midwest, Northeast, South, Southwest regions), we are reflecting on the criteria we used to plan our route and how, in many ways, it is, well, irrelevant. Yes, irrelevant.
We see now how much our criteria has changed over the course of the trip - countless times in fact as we’ve gotten deeper into the journey and as we’ve spent more time reflecting and discussing what we are feeling and learning.
Initially, our criteria focused on amenities – parks, local food systems, awesome grocery stores, comic shops, libraries, walkability, job opportunities and so on.
Traveling through rural and urban places, we wondered if maybe a certain type of community wasn’t a better fit for us. Did we connect with the hustle, noise, and activity of a city, or crave a different pace and setting?
We never lost sight of the world around us, local and national politics, climate change and what those factors meant for where we wanted to live next. We’ve referenced this article about the impact of climate change in different regions numerous times.
As we got further on the trip and began to absorb the experience of connecting with wonderful people all over, we realized that - DUH - the people we were meeting were an equally important factor. With whom did we want to build and nurture community?
Talking with our hosts about how they spent their days and chatting with each other as we traveled across the country (plus lots of soul-searching journaling) we focused on a core sub-thesis of our trip: what a different career path might look like for each of us. How did we want to spend our working hours? Who could we be in career 2.0?
And further in, we began to realize the intersection of our criteria was probably most important of all. With whom did we want to build community, doing what with our days, and in what type of place?
Along stretches of highways and byways, we discussed these factors, their intersections, the feelings in us that were contradictory (and sometimes maddening). We sorted through the ever-shifting information we were gathering, trying to discern what comes next for us.
And ultimately, there is no single place that called to us more than the others. In fact, we believe – of the places we visited and the people we met - that there are many we could relocate to and happily integrate into the community.
And, there is, of course, the place we came from, where we started this journey. We are seeing it in a new way, informed by distance, reflection and new understanding.
We now have clarity in the following ways:
-We want to live in a more rural environment within a few hours of a mid-sized city;
-We want to live in a house or small community with other people (sharing space & ownership);
-We want part of what we “do” each day to include learning and skill-building, particularly around growing self-sufficiencies (time for me to get comfortable with power tools);
-We want to incorporate some environmentally-conscious choices in our next home such as solar power, rain gardens, and other "green" tech;
-We aren’t quite ready to call ourselves farmers, but know that some of what we will do in our new home will include a large garden and animals.
Our epic journey around the country didn’t lead us to the perfect place. But it did lead us to clarity within ourselves and with each other about what we want to build next.
So the good news is that we are no longer searching for a where. There were many wise souls who told us before we left that there is no singular, perfect place. They were right.
The not-quite-bad-not-quite-good news is a bit more layered. We are adjusting our heads and hearts to how things didn’t go according to plan. We planned for clarity – a where – in a different way than we are received it – a what.
In addition, we aren’t settled yet nor do we think the next chapter will start as quickly as we hoped. We have more research to do and places to revisit, with our newfound understanding of what we want.
So, where does this leave us? It leaves us in an interim place we didn’t plan for. An in-between we couldn’t have imagined when we set out from Minneapolis on August 17th.
We have chosen a middle place, literal and symbolic.
Come January, we will temporarily land in St. Louis, MO where I grew up. We will start a short-term rental, find part-time jobs and - in all the space between semi "regular" existences - continue to pursue our next chapter. We hope to visit land, research rural properties, continue conversations with others who are interested in shared space, and visit cohousing communities in a few of our favorite places from our journey. Including the place we started from. Surprise!
So, does this make it a next chapter within a next chapter? I guess so.
We are no longer searching for the perfect place. Instead we are landing softly in a place both familiar and unfamiliar. In this temporary home we will continue to grow, expand resources, and prepare – in a multitude of ways - for the life we now envision so clearly and - at long last - feel ready for.