By He Said
Upon our families return from China, one of the first questions that is usually asked is “how are you adjusting to being back home?” This is frankly a difficult question to answer.
Growing up I always felt that big city living was not for me. Seeing as I grew up in Carson City (far Far FAR from being a big city) and then spending my college years and second half of my life in Reno, Nevada I can honestly say that I have never really LIVED in a big city. Until now.
I think living in Beijing, a city of 6,483 square miles and 22 million people, in an apartment with my entire family for three months (while having a regular job) qualifies as having experienced city living.
And guess what? I loved it and I disliked it and I liked it and I hated it.
How can that be you ask?
For starters, I found that I really enjoyed not driving a car for three months. There were very few occasions that I wished I had a car. Public transportation met my every need. Now I understand that the cost of living variation made this public transportation much more cost effective, but it was the convenience of it that I truly enjoyed. I even learned to appreciate the bus system (not the Double Decker bus mind you because I needed Alice’s “Drink Me” shrinking potion to comfortably fit on the top deck). Don’t get me wrong. I understand there are things I would need or want a car to do living here in the states, but for day to day living, not having to use a car was actually in itself a convenience.
Food. It was everywhere and once I figured out how to get Susanne to order everything for me, it was convenient. It was an adventure to try new foods from street vendors and be able to choose from 15 different food sources all on the same street. Food variety within walking distance or by public transportation was really cool. I am sure having McDonalds, KFC (click the link and enjoy) and groceries delivered by bicycle messenger added a little romance to it, but hey, when they refuse a tip, what’s not to like.
Green grass and expansive parks. They had them, but they were so rare and far away that even the public transportation didn’t make them easy to visit. With two small children this had a huge suck factor. There was no grass, no place for kids to run and play anywhere near our apartment.
Apartment living. I can live in an apartment. I have done it here in town. As long as you can take a short walk and find a place to play Frisbee or simply chase each other around it is livable. The apartment situation in Beijing was not kid friendly. Living on the 10th floor where the only place for the kids to play is the walkway around the center “space” of the apartment building was not cool. A 10 story high empty space surrounded by a walkway on each floor – (where one small leap over the guardrail meant certain death). Every time my kids ran out the front door my stomach was in a pit. This is one of those things I am glad to be done with. Here are the kids looking up to the apartments above (where we lived).
So I learned that there are certain things about city living that I like and others that I do not. I learned that if there was a way for me to live near a big city and still have the ability to live near the mountains or a place where parks were plentiful, or even better yet near the ocean as I have always wanted to, then that would be the ideal situation for me. What is my ultimate fantasy? Seattle area, Bainbridge Island, Issaquah or similar area. A big city with the outdoors and ocean/sound right in the backyard. This is nothing new. This is something I have wanted for over 20 years now.
This is what I want for myself and my family. To sweeten the deal, that is what my wife would like as well.
Beijing taught me that ultimately Reno is not the place for me. I want more. I want to live out my dreams, see more, experience more. It was my extended family that convinced me to take the opportunity to move to Beijing for three months. They of course had no way of knowing that it would also show me the world is full of so many opportunities and that I should try explore and experience those as well.
My father was an explorer at heart. He had dreams of buying a motor home and traveling the USA. He wanted to see all that America had to offer. He worked long and hard. Always planning to do everything he wanted to do AFTER the kids had graduated college, after he retired. He got cancer. He had a stroke. He had to quit working and he died before he ever got to do the things he wanted to do. This will not happen to me. I want to be able to do things in the now.
So we put our house on the market today. Yes, we can banter the pros and cons and talk about weather and rain and the bad real estate market, but ultimately what I want is a change. This is not a change that is happening today, tomorrow or even this year. But it is change that WE ultimately want and we will be prepared when it comes. When adventure calls I want to be able to move quickly and swiftly. I don’t want to say “oh, that would be great to sail around the world on your expedition. What? My family can come and there will be schooling on board and snorkeling with turtles and dolphins! Oh, I have this house and I need to sell it first, sorry, I can’t go” (this is an extreme example, there are no plans to go on an expedition, but if you know of one feel free to message me!) or when Susanne says “OMG Greg, its Bill Gates on the phone. He wants you to come work for the foundation, says he found you using BING and you MUST come work for him!” (ok, I told you this was about DREAMS!).
I do not want to be caught behind the eight ball when adventure comes calling or there is an opportunity for change. Even better, if we are prepared for adventure there is nothing stopping us from looking for some rather than waiting for it to find us!
So we have put our house on the market. We are purging and selling our stuff. We are streamlining and preparing. When we sell the house we will find an apartment and save some money.
Simply put we are preparing for some unknown change that has yet to come. We are streamlining our life. I hope you all will support us and come along for the ride.
P.S. If you want to pay me to “adventure” and blog about it you can DM me on twitter @gmoyle.
P.S.S. If you do ever move to Beijing or have an extended stay, be sure to use Beijing Home Delivery and tell them Susanne and Greg sent you. They won’t know who we are, but it might be fun to listen to them pretend to remember us.