Last weekend, I took a girls' trip to Chicago with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. The morning before we made our separate ways back home, we talked about how hard it is sometimes to leave these happy moments behind and return to our seemingly mundane routines of work and school, family and home. Of course, ever-flowing with information I picked up on the internet, I mentioned an article I'd read online earlier in the week written by a woman who'd returned home from Europe, intent on building her life around the principles she'd discovered while traveling abroad. Kind of like Eat Pray Love, but practical and on a budget.
Her premise got me thinking: Why do I have such a hard time leaving these bigger cities behind? What is it I love about them, and how can I bring a little piece of the cities I love so much -- New York, Chicago, Boston -- home?
Therefore, a little list of resolutions to make these next few months in Tallahassee feel a little bit more like, say, Chicago:
- Walk to work. My new job has all sorts of perks and benefits I'm enjoying (along with stresses and frustrations, because this is the real world and not You've Got Mail); one of those benefits is a convenient location to our new place. The bookstore is a 15 minute walk from our neighborhood, and it's a beautiful, safe walk too -- a little bit rare in Tallahassee. So why haven't I taken advantage of it? Heat and humidity, sure, but laziness too. No more. In Chicago, I commented over and over again how much I loved its walkability, all the while failing to acknowledge: My neighborhood is walkable! And people in bigger cities? They walk to trains and busses and offices come rain, heat, sun, or snow. What's my excuse? So today (and yesterday), I walked to work. And it was delightful.
- Time on the patio and in the park. One downside to some of the bigger cities I love is a lack of personal green space. Instead, though, residents spend time on their balconies and patios (if they're lucky), and they visit their local parks. Jordan and I have a great patio, two adirondack chairs on the front lawn, and a park literally right outside our front door. And unlike Boston, New York, or Chicago, Tallahassee is gorgeous and mild in the fall and winter; there's no reason why we can't spend more time in the fresh air.
- Take advantage of unique opportunities right where I am. If The Civil Wars are coming to Tallahassee in January, I need to buy a ticket. A walking ghost tour downtown? Sure it's cheesy, but it sounds fun. Instead of pining over cultural events elsewhere, why not spend my time and money supporting my local economy so my community's leaders will continue to provide those types of opportunities? Sure, there are Seminole football games, but what about symphony concerts and park openings and food truck Thursdays? Too often, I make excuses -- I'm too tired, something's too expensive -- for not doing something. My gut impulse most evenings, I think, is to be a homebody. And while I don't want to apologize for or change that about myself, I also want to be adventurous, to get up off my couch and to enjoy the town I've been given to live in. One day, my city of residence might change. But right now? It's pretty great.
I've got a few other resolutions set for fall (inspired partly by friends and mostly by Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home), but these are three simple ways I think could set my heart at ease while I'm living in a smaller city.
What about you? If you're a big city dweller, how do you make your city feel like home? And if you're a small city dweller, how do you make your city feel a little less tiny?