Aside from the state where I was born during my father’s stint in the United States Army, I’ve lived in three different states: Connecticut, California, and Illinois. Each place more drastically different from the other. I thought today, I’d go through some of what I liked and disliked about living in these regions.
I grew up in Connecticut, in the tiny, semi-pretentious town of Brookfield. Where it’s a gorgeous place to live all year around with it’s lush green woodlands, rolling hills, and babbling brooks. It’s also a place I never felt a part of. I moved to this tiny town when I was 8 and by then, all the kids had spent the first 4 years of school together. I was an outsider, and I suppose I felt that way until I was 24 and when I moved out of my childhood home. I did end up finding friends and having some beautiful memories with them, but the once out-going, out-spoken little girl who danced around the grocery stores in costumes in the next town over before moving, I became the quiet one, not ruffling any feathers, not fighting for things I wanted. I simply retreated in my own little world and that’s where I stayed. I was a very lonely person who just wanted to find my place in the world, and hopefully someone to share it with me.
After college, I had to get out of the tininess of Connecticut and drove 3,000 miles to San Diego, California for the next stage of my life. I wanted to find myself, my career, and hopefully someone I could share love with there. In the sun and the surf, I soaked up every drop of California, from it’s amazing weather to it’s rocking night life and everything in between. I lived not too far from the photo above and worked at a little cafe that delivered to places all along the cove. Gorgeous did not begin explain how incredible it was to see sights like these every single day…and this was the first place I lived in Cali. I also was able to live in a 1920s studio apartment right downtown, in the mountains and canyons of eastern San Diego, and on the coast 6 miles from the ocean in Solana Beach. Each part of the city was more beautiful than the next. Even more than the beauty of the city, I met the man who shares my soul. I remember once walking into my bedroom with the sea breeze of the Pacific wafting through my apartment and thinking, “this is a dream and I never want to wake up.”
But with every delicious high of living in California there were a few downsides too. There’s the obvious downside of traffic… oh my gosh, it’s awful there! The anxiety I used to have driving to work was outrageous. Distance wise – I lived 15 miles away, but traffic wise – it took me upwards of 90 minutes to get there.
Then there was the cut-throatedness of the people. Whether I was in law school and having someone befriend me only for my notes, or a boss that was nice to my face but telling corporate crap about me behind my back, it was a tough world to live in. Let’s just say I learned a lot of valuable lessons about trust over there.
I also learned that the right people mean everything. If I thought living in Connecticut was lonely, I was wrong. I, at least, had my family. In California, I had no one for that first year. At one point, I called my friend, who lived 2 hours away in Los Angeles, and asked if we could meet half way just for some real human contact. She felt the same way and we did exactly that, giving each other a hug in Irvine, California because we both needed one.
At least the loneliness went away before I left, as well as finding out what I wanted from life and someone to share it with me. The traffic never died though.
While I lived in California, my parents and most of my sisters moved to Illinois. Jon (my then fiancé, now husband) wanted to go back to school and it just wasn’t feasible in California, since it meant we’d have only one full-time job to support us both. So we moved to Illinois. Boy did it take a while to get used to this place. Nothing prepared me for the Midwest. It’s a slower pace, flat, and a little behind in style, fashion, and dare I say it – education. (Sorry, Illinoisans, I don’t mean all of you. There are many highly intelligent residents of the state – I’ll explain in a bit what I mean by the lack of education.) The first city we lived in was Springfield, and dear Lord, that is the sinkhole of the United States. The only memory that will keep me proud of Springfield is having my son there.
The biggest problem I had with Springfield is the racism (which brings us back to the lack of education in the smaller, more rural outskirts of the city). Both of my sisters were abused verbally and physically by kids at their school for being a different race other than their own blonde hair, blue eyed, Anglo-Saxon world. My husband, who is Korean, and I encountered some of this too, bumping into a kid at the grocery store who spun around, pointed to Jon and said, “Look mom, a foreigner.” The mother didn’t correct her son, just agreed with him, and walked on, leaving Jon and I staring at them like two wide-mouth bass.
Needless to say, we did not want to raise our son in Springfield and before he entered elementary school, we moved to Bloomington. What a night and day difference! The culture in Bloomington is vastly different, and I am so proud of this community. Every race is welcome and celebrated with open arms.
I’m happy to say that this is a town I love. I have my family, a career I love, and beauty all around us. Sure it’s not the rolling hills and lush woodlands of Connecticut, nor the sand and surf of California, but we have exhilarating storms, sunsets with colors I can’t begin to describe, and fields of green and gold as far as the eye can see all summer long.
All in all, I am a big fan of being an explorer. If you don’t know what you want to do in your life, go out and find it. Try different places, visit, travel, and treat your life like an adventure. Through it you never know, you might find exactly what you are looking for.