I’m still constantly surprised by Midwestern weather. Last week, we were struggling with near 100 degrees and high humidity. Today, it’s rainy, grey and a was around 64 degrees all day.
I’m not complaining. In fact, even though I’ve lived here for almost 3 years now, it still delights me that the weather can change that much. As I’ve said before, it’s nice to have variety and for the eight years I lived in L.A., I certainly got tired of those sunny days. I even got tired of the days that started out gloomy and finally got sunny later on because there was never any real promise of rain: There was only the empty tease.
There are a lot of differences living in the Midwest to California. Not all of them are good but I still wouldn’t move back for anything. I do miss the ocean being within a 45 minute drive. I miss seeing the mountains that were tinged purple on clear sunny mornings. I miss the rosemary that grows wild everywhere and the fact that, even in December, there are flowers blooming.
What I don’t miss is the traffic. When I talk to candidates who are looking for new jobs, many of them find themselves job seeking because they have to commute downtown to Cincinnati and as soon as I hear that, they immediately have my sympathies. I’m lucky enough to live six minutes from work nowadays but for the time I lived in L.A., my commute being little over 14 miles took me at least an hour each way and that was when traffic was actually moving.
I also don’t miss the expense. I’m still constantly amazed that my mortgage payment is still less than that which I paid for rent. In fact, in 2001, what I paid for my first little studio apartment in North Hollywood is approximately the same as my house payment now.
I could spend this entire blog on the good and bad differences I find between L.A. and the Midwest but, really, I don’t want to because I’m content where I am. The only thing I really miss is the more open, single culture of L.A. As I’ve said before, being in my mid-thirties in the Midwest makes me a bit of a weirdo and, gasp, bordering on spinster territory. In L.A., it was, dare I say it, very normal.
This doesn’t make the Midwest bad- it’s just different. I know someone from high school who is a grandmother at my age. Here, it’s very traditional to get married and have a family at a much younger age than in big cities. It doesn’t bother me except when it comes to making friends. When I first moved here, two of my similar-aged, married coworkers used to invite me to their houses to hang out with them, their spouses and another member of their ‘gang’- a single woman who, like me, wasn’t married. It was nice, at first until I realized that I was being invited so that the other single woman didn’t feel like a third wheel and she had ‘a buddy’. I know this because I accidentally overheard it one day.
It bothered me just a little. I wanted to make friends because they liked me, not because I made an even number of people. Over time, I stopped getting invited and, in time, I was treated like an ‘outsider’ at work when the three women got together. Because it felt like a high school mentality, it irritated me for a long time. It was clearly a clique and I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to belong. Fortunately, since they all acted a little like children who had decided they were the Coolest Gang on the plant, I got bored.
As such, I ended up actually making friends with two of my other coworkers. They were both a little older than me- one married, one divorced…both great women. It took a little trial and error but, with patience, I got it right in the end.
Now I’ve been here a while, it doesn’t really bother me that I’m single. It’s interesting- in my current office, only two of my seven coworkers are actually married. Two of the others live with significant others and three of us are single. It’s just a different environment.
Granted, it still doesn’t make me ‘normal’ according the median age of married couples around here but it still helps.
In truth, what I’ve figured out and what it took me years to figure out was, in truth, where you live isn’t as important as being happy where you live. I fit in more in L.A. I liked the geography. I miss my friends. There are even occasional days during weeks of nothing but rain, I miss the sun of L.A.
Yet, despite all that, I never felt as content and happy there as I have in the time I’ve lived back in Ohio. It’s not just being a homeowner. It’s not just having two fantastic pups. It’s not even having my family within a decent driving distance.
It’s just that I feel like I’ve found myself here. I’ve never felt as relaxed and content with myself and where I live than I have in the past two years.
And no matter how great L.A. is/was…nothing and nowhere can replace that feeling.