Day 4 -- Leaving La La?

Since the H and I got together eleven years ago, we've talked, with ever-shifting levels of seriousness, about leaving Los Angeles. When we met, I was only four years into my vow of five years' residence here: I had moved around a lot before landing in California, as a child with my parents and then as an adult on my own, and I wanted to see if I could stand still for a while. Fifteen years later, I am entrenched, surrounded by a truly irreplaceable community of friends, a neighborhood that feels like one, even in this mammoth sprawl of a city, a network of resources like the ever-more-prominent veins in the back of my hand. But...since having our kids, the idea of leaving this city seems more enticing. As good as we have it here, and it is good, we worry about living in a city (ok, this is true of the whole country, I know, but it's awfully glaring here) with an evaporating middle class, where status is often though more highly of than substance, where running more than a few yards outside requires a long walk on sidewalk-less streets or a trip in the car.

We've turned over and over in our minds the dilemma of where to go. New York City we love, but as a place to visit, not a place to live with two small kids. San Francisco, same deal, plus a real estate market that, like ours here, is bloated to the point of insanity. Portland? Austin? Seattle? All are too unknown, and we're not so good with the unknown, the H and I. One place I've fantasized about is upstate New York. We were introduced to the area through dear friends who live in Manhattan but weekend not far from Hudson, and over time, we've made other friends there through them, and been seduced by the area's many charms. Spectacular countryside. Open land. No big box stores. No billboards. Lots of artists and writers living among farmers old and new.

We went back for a visit last month, and, somewhat on a lark, somewhat with a purpose neither of us wanted to fully acknowledge or discuss, we looked at houses with a realtor friend. At the first place we stopped, Dido threw open the car door, propelled himself out and took off running. And we didn't have to stop him. We didn't have to warn him about a street, a stranger, going out of view. The H and I looked at each other, and then moved inside to look at the house.

...to be continued

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