So there’s a great career blogger, Penelope Trunk, who I often read. Not necessarily for the career advice, but mostly because she makes me feel okay even though I’m a career-failure right now . Anyways, a while back she wrote a good piece about things to consider when moving to a new city. One factor in moving is the people who will become your neighbors; you will become like them. If you move to New York, you will be stressed, you will work a lot, you will probably wear black. If you move to Washington state you might hike a lot and start seeing a naturopath. If you move to Kansas you will become a Republican (just kidding…).
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I moved from Madrid to the Kansas suburbs. I have been trying to hold on to a lifestyle that isn’t exactly mainstream here. I ride my bike to work and to the grocery store when I can. But a car-free, localized lifestyle is just not possible, so I see the sense in Penelope’s argument. Where you live and who you live with influence your actions, whether it is out of pure necessity (no way I’m walking thirty minutes to the post office) or our subconscious need to socially conform (people look at me funny when I ride my bike down 135th street).
The other day when I was biking back from work I saw a woman (who must be a neighbor but I don’t know her) intensely power walking (you know, with weights and stuff) in my neighborhood. And I thought, I DON’T WANT TO BE A POWERWALKER. Please, no. I don’t want to drive my car to a yoga class. I don’t want to stop at a stoplight every 100 feet when I drive down 119th street. I don’t want to be a suburbanite!
Ok, I’m overreacting. I usually do okay with my suburban lifestyle, but I have my momentary freak-outs. But I shouldn’t be worried. While I’ve seen how the places where we live can make us, I’ve also seen how we, on an individual level, have the power to make ourselves.