I do. OK, not my son. I would never give him up to move to an island. And probably not my husband – well, er, yeah, he can come too. But I’m talking about changing the actual day-to-day way I live my life.
I’ve thought about this before. After college, my best friend and I talked seriously about moving to London (because they speak English there) just because we felt like it. And although it never happened, I did spend a good deal of my twenties, and my married life in between fertility treatments, traveling. I love seeing how other people live. And to be honest, I’m usually jealous of it. After returning from Greece and declaring that the way of life was just so much better, someone said to me, “That’s just because you don’t actually live there.” Fair point.
But this whole idea of a different lifestyle, one in which we take our time, enjoy simple pleasures, work to live instead of live to work, siesta in the afternoon (the adults too, not just the kids), appreciate nature and spend days in the warm sunshine instead of in an air-conditioned office, remains appealing to me. I’m a little bored by suburban ideals: soccer games and big box stores and strip malls and Stepford-like developments.
The notion of changing my life came to the forefront of my mind again recently by an article in Cosmopolitan about a woman who gave up her career to move to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands where, she says, she worked in an ice cream store.
Now, after reading the article a few things jumped out about this scenario. She had just finished a book (!) so it’s not like she actually quit a job to do this. She also would presumably be collecting money from said book after it was published. And this decision to drop everything and move was probably only possible because she had made money previously that she then used to fund the move and, presumably, some of her time there, since an ice-cream salary may not have cut it. So I think the decision to chuck it all and move can only be made from a position of privilege. But, hey, more power to her. I’m nitpicking.
And I’m sure jaded, cynical or just plain practical people think this whole notion is silly anyway. Maybe they are right. I’ve floated the idea past Foggy Daddy a few times, and he’s basically put the kibash on it. FD tends to be very practical about things, and is also pretty content with life in general. I’m the restless one who always dreams of more.
In addition to the requisite Eat, Pray, Love, I’ve read escapist ex-pat lit that has fueled my wanderlust. An Embarrassment of Mangoes by travel writer Ann Vanderhoof chronicles her and her husband’s scheme to sail down the eastern coast of the U.S. and around the Caribbean. (They’re a child-free couple, which I’m sure made the journey easier; but they did spend a great number of years planning the trip.) A Trip to the Beach followed Melinda and Robert Blanchard to the Caribbean island of Anguilla, where they opened a restaurant, Blanchards, on scenic Meads Bay. FD and I actually ate at this restaurant and met the Blanchards on one of our in-between-IVFs trips to the Caribbean. (The food was delicious.)
I am also a huge fan of House Hunters International on HGTV. When I watch it, I think, maybe this isn’t such an insane idea. These people are moving their families to places where there is a better quality of life. They are making a conscious decision for the good of their children. They are real people actually doing this. So why is it so crazy?
It’s not like it can’t be done. Obviously it’s not easy, but would it be worth it? It’s such a risky move that to embark upon such a venture, especially when your family is on the line, is just not worth it to most people. I wonder, though, for those people who’ve been brave enough to chance it, what their satisfaction level is. How many ex-pats regret it?
Again, this is a choice that can only be made from a position of privilege. I have a great life – a roof over our heads, plenty to eat, a son who I get to stay home with, good careers (flexible for me, stable for my husband). We spend our weekends at backyard barbecues and first birthday parties and playgrounds and parks. Some would say this is the good life, right here. And maybe they are right. But sometimes I still want more.
Would you ever change your current lifestyle? Where would you go and what would you do?