There’s No Place Like “Home”

Last week, I found round trip airfare from Orlando to Atlanta for this year’s Dragon Con for only $136.  I posted it to BookFace, saying something like, “The moment when you spot an INSANELY good rate for Dragon Con airfare, but you don’t know if this will still be your home airport. ::sob::”

To my vast surprise, several people had a “wait, what?” type of reaction, and a few messaged me privately to ask if I was moving away from Orlando.  I mentioned in my new year’s post that I was contemplating a move out of Florida, and I’ve been talking incessantly about the possibilities with a few people, so it never occurred to me that so many of my friends would be in the dark.  (Clearly, I need to get more of them reading this blog.)

To address the question more directly:  I still haven’t decided for sure if I’m leaving Florida.   Or where I’m going if I do move.

It’s really difficult to break through the inertia of staying in one place for a while.  I’ve moved twelve times in the last ten years, but I’ve been in this one place for a little while now, and it can be difficult to pick up and go for the thirteenth time.

What I have decided with certainty is that when my lease ends this summer, I don’t want to stay put.  I don’t really like my apartment, for one thing.   Also, it’s fricking hot here.  And it would be significantly hotter in South Florida.

The climate here isn’t the only thing to be considered.   It’s been years since I lived in a place that “felt like home” to me. When I came back to the US after my time abroad, no part of South Florida felt quite right; I felt like a stranger in my own home town- more than I did in Germany.

I traveled back to Germany twice after I moved back, once for work and once just to visit.  During both of those trips, I had the uncanny feeling that I had only just left a few days before.  Aside from a few familiar restaurants closing and new ones opening, and aside from Jenny and Robert’s children getting taller, everything felt the same.  It felt like I had just left, and it felt like no time had passed at all.  I was incredibly comfortable there.  Not so with my return to the US – everything here felt kind of alien to me.

I’m not suggesting that I want to return to living outside of the United States- I absolutely do not. (Although if my job wanted me to be in the London office for a while, I wouldn’t say no.).  What I am saying is that when no place feels like home, it’s difficult to feel settled.  I genuinely don’t know where I want to be.

For where to go next, I have a few main considerations:

  • Is the temperature colder than Florida for most of the year? (Not bloody difficult!)
  • Is there cool shit to do?  Especially the music;  how’s the concert scene?  Is it a constant flow of activity there or do they roll up the sidewalks at 8pm?
  • Is there decent public transportation there?
  • Do I know anyone in the area? Friends or family?
  • Can I get a decent apartment there without blowing my spleen out on rent payments?
  • Is there a variety of delicious food options?

I’ve considered a number of possible destinations.  I’ve considered eastern New Jersey, with easy access to New York.  I considered Austin for the music scene, but moving from a swamp to a desert is not my idea of cooling down.  I also thought about Portland and the Pacific Northwest, or the Raleigh-Durham area, or Atlanta.   My work is completely remote, so I can theoretically work from anywhere.  In practice, it’s best if I stick to the same time zone as the main office in New York;  I am NOT a morning person and moving west would mean working earlier.

The top contender at present is the Washington DC/Northern Virginia area.  It ticks every box I just listed, and then some.   DC has easy access to three airports and the most useful part of the US rail lines.  It has a pretty useful metro system, and a constant flow of things to see and do.  The weather is a lot closer to what I actually want.  I’ve got a few friends and a really nifty cousin there.  Despite having no firm decision to move, I already have tickets to at least four concerts there this year.  I also have a fervid desire to go to at least five more events that were announced, but until I learn to clone myself that isn’t happening.

So yes, I’m leaning that way.  Still, the decision is not fully made.

Florida is not without its advantages, and I would be remiss to ignore the things I would be leaving behind:  An established social scene with a lot of friendships that I would miss.  Easy access to the theme parks.   Having sorted out which doctors to see in the area. (Finding new doctors is just a pain in the ass.)  Tijuana Flats and Publix.   Being only about a 70 minute drive from my sister, and only a few hours away by car for most of the rest of my family.   Being able to comfortably wear shorts for eleven and a half months out of the year.

But then there are the parts of living here that are less thrilling.  For example, the great social scene I just mentioned is largely centered around a bar scene, which means lots of beer intake.  (Some people would call that a plus, now that I think about it.)  Also, having to wear shorts for eleven and a half months out of the year to remain comfortable while still sweating is miserable and uncomfortable and kind of sticky.

And Orlando doesn’t feel like home either.

I don’t know if a new city will be any better, but I do think a fresh start would be really good for me.   I’m not worried about making friends in my new location, because I’ve moved to a new city sight-unseen a few times now, and I was able to find a tribe there each time.   For an introvert, I’m really quite friendly and sociable.

And hey, at least I won’t be sweating in January.

When is the last time you moved?  Was it a difficult change?

6/52

Minneapolis is not Japan.

I know y’all are waiting for my Japan posts, and I promise they’re coming.  I have some other stuff that needs to be posted, though, so I’m going to alternate between Japan and not-Japan for a bit.

About four months ago, I spent a few days in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  My primary reason for going to Minneapolis was an Information Society concert.  InSoc started out in Minneapolis, so this was a hometown show for the band.  They had family members, former group members, and old, old friends in the audience.  It was an amazing show.

The gentleman front and center in red is Kurt Harland, who does most of the lead vocals for the band.  The gentleman in the white coat on the left side of this photo is James Cassidy, and the man in white on the right side is Paul Robb.  Those three have been with the band since the band’s formation in the early 1980s.  The two in back are more recent additions.

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I gave myself an entire extra day before the concert, though, because I hadn’t ever spent more than 24 hours in the city, and I wanted to look around.  From the airport, I took the light rail into the city center, and I walked the three short blocks from the train station to my hotel.  On the way to the hotel, I passed Mary Tyler Moore.  I do love random statue sightings.

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One of my favorite things about Minneapolis is the ingenious way that the city has responded to being insanely fricking cold during the winter-  the downtown area is threaded with these Habitrail-looking tubes that connect the buildings.  The places where the tubes intersect the buildings often contain shops or restaurants.  The network of tubes is so large that there are entire mapping apps you can put on your phone to help you route around them without having to go outside.  They’re great fun, and walking through them feels a little bit like you’re on a space station.  They are the last, best hope for warmth.

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Given my love of tall buildings, it should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody that I tried to go up the Foshay building.  The elevator was out of service, however, and I wasn’t able to finagle another way to the top.

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The doors to the elevator were certainly snazzy, though.  This totally looks like something out of Ghostbusters.

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Minneapolis has dedicated candy stores… nifty!

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There’s also a lot of street art.  Many of the utility boxes were painted in pretty or interesting ways.

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Many cities I’ve visited have had rental bikes.  This is the one place I’ve ever tried them.  The rental rate was very reasonable, and I was able to cover several miles without burning too much time by using the rental bikes.  I only dropped the bike on my foot once during the entire trip!

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This is a picture of the Minneapolis skyline from the Walker Art Center, which I’ll talk about in another post.  The Walker has a bunch of really great things to see, and I took many photographs there.

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On my trip back from the Walker, I noticed the marquee on this theater.  Alas, the Neil deGrasse Tyson show was two days after I left Minnesota.

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They’re building a new stadium.  It looks nifty.  And so, so huge.

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I read somewhere before my trip that Big Brain Comics was a great classic comic store, so I wandered in while I was in town.  Nice store, decent selection, friendly staff.

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Next door to Big Brain Comics is the Day Block Brewing Company, a very nice place to stop for lunch and a cold refreshing drink. (It was really hot outside.  This drink was super refreshing!)

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Next up on my day wandering around the city, a stop at the city’s Stone Arch Bridge, overlooking the old mill ruins.  The bridge was completed in 1883, but the construction isn’t all that different from the one in Regensburg.  I guess an arch is an arch.

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Speaking of things that reminded me of Germany…

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The famous First Avenue has been serving up fantastic live music to Minneapolis since the 1970s.  This isn’t where Information Society was playing- First Avenue instead had a sold out They Might Be Giants show going on at the same time as my show.

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I’m so jealous of anyone who lives in a city with a concert hotspot like this.  The outer wall was just covered in amazing band names from previous shows.

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I didn’t know who this fellow was when I snapped the photograph, but my love of random statues pushed me to learn about Sid Hartman.   He’s a local sports journalist who’s been covering Minnesota sports since 1945.  He’s 95 years old, and he hasn’t retired.

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Speaking of statues, I saw this one on my way over to the comics store mentioned earlier.  I forgot to write down where it was, however, so I haven’t the foggiest idea who sculpted this or what it’s called.  It’s nice, though.

Edit: My genius art-loving girlfriend informs me that this is a Botero sculpture called “The Dancers.”  This is good to know!

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My hotel room was one of the strangest hotel rooms I’ve ever seen-  when I looked behind the curtain to see what kind of window view I had from my room, I discovered that it was a separate lockable door going into a small ballroom type space.  There was a bunch of stacked up chairs, a covered bar, and an upright piano in there.    On another weekend, I might well have had a wedding reception just through that hotel room door.   Weird, huh?

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On my way out of Minneapolis, I saw Aviator Snoopy and Woodstock.    I love these two, but I really don’t know why Woodstock needs tiny goggles.

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Have you ever been to Minneapolis?  What did you think of the Habitrail tubes?