Yesterday, as I tested a mango at the grocery store for ripeness by giving it a firm squeeze, the woman standing next to me remarked, "those don't even look like mangoes to me. You should've seen the ones I had growing on the tree in my backyard in Hawaii." We then had a brief conversation about our shared loved of mango before I went on my way. As my day went on, I kept thinking about the woman I'd met in the produce section. Mango in your backyard? I was envious, for sure. But, I wondered, more than anything, what brought her to live in Smallville, Arkansas? Is she happy here in her mango-less backyard?
I read an article the other day that said that more and more people are actively choosing where they live. It makes sense. Modern transportation makes it easy to get pretty much anywhere and technology makes it possible to communicate across vast distances easily and even work from home from virtually any location. Gone are the days when "home" was necessarily within a buggy's ride of one's birthplace. The world is now open to us.
I would wager, though, that most of the folks I encounter in a day were born here or around here or are married to someone who was born here or around here. That may be how you got here. But, why do you stay?
Let's use faith as an analogy. Sure, you may have originally chosen your faith because it's the church your parents dragged you to as a child, but at some point that faith had to become yours and not just your parents'. At some point you chose it for yourself, right?
I suspect that lots of us never really get there with where we live. We consider it something that was chosen for us -- that we just have to live with. But, let's assume for a minute that life is what we make of it rather than what happens to us.
I love taking quizzes, so I looked up a quiz online that was supposed to identify my ideal location based on how I answered a TON of questions. The questions were so good (how much social interaction do you need?, do you want to be able to go to the opera/zoo/campground/mall/airport?, what is your ideal climate?), that I was really looking forward to discovering that magical place somewhere on the globe where I can milk my backyard goats year-round without having to wear gloves, where the sun shines more often than it doesn't, and I really only need one wardrobe and can donate my coat to Goodwill. Alas, do you know what it said was my number one matching location? Get ready for it. . .
Cherokee Village, Arkansas.
Seriously. That's what it said. I decided not to add a link to the quiz for you, since obviously it doesn't work appropriately. (No offense, Cherokee Village, but I wouldn't exactly call you "tropical.")
Since I'm probably not going to be packing up the house and moving the family to Honduras anytime soon, I decided that it was time to make a list (lists and quizzes, can you tell I'm Type A?). This list will catalog all the reasons I love where I live -- all the reasons I choose to live where I live. My hope is that the list will reinforce my love of this place and the life we're making in it. Hopefully, it'll be a strong enough list to get me through even the darkest, coldest winter months.
So, residents of Smallville, have you got anything for me to be sure to add to my list? Why do you love where you live?