Photos: Flagler Beach, Florida and Bedford, Pennsylvania
Yesterday, I took Danny to the new urgent care center down the street cause he was suffering from vertigo and fatigue. Since there have been some cases of Swine flu where he works, he was a little concerned. Luckily, he does not have the flu. While I was sitting in the waiting room, I happened to pick up a magazine dedicated to life in the Carolinas and I read all about the various cities and places to move to up there. Last night I checked some real estate listings and pics of homes in Western NC and SC and while I really liked the lower than Florida prices and mountain views and puny real estate taxes, the idea of moving up there did not touch my heart strings like the idea of relocating to Pennsylvania did several weeks ago during my visit. They were just pretty places to me. Pretty as my current town of Winter Park is.
I reflected on it just before I fell asleep last night and realized that I have seen many beautiful places in my life in many states and countries. I learned to love Hilton Head in the half dozen years I lived there part time and appreciated its beauty immediately. In fact, I pretty much like all beach towns. Switzerland and Austria were breathtaking. France was beautiful too. So was West Virginia. Austin, Asheville, Charleston (SC), Savannah, Minneapolis, and San Francisco are some of my favorite American cities with great appeal and quality of lifestyle.
Only two places visited immediately felt like "home" though almost at first sight: places I knew that I could happily move to and where I felt strongly that I "belonged". Those two places were Western Pennsylvania and England. The first probably because I was born there and am a 12th generation Pennsylvanian, although most of my life has been in Florida. I really would fit in there from entitlement if nothing else. (Lol.) The second, no doubt, felt so homey from hearing many many stories from my mother (whose hobby was Genealogy and who traced her English kin to 850 AD) about our long history as a family in England before beginning the process of emigrating to Pennsylvania in the 1680s. Culturally, our family was British, despite the heavy Scotish and German infusion of root stock over many generations in America, and every time I visited England I felt very much at home there both with the terrain and the people. I visited Germany several times and felt no such pull. And Scotland, although I am an admirer of her culture and my own Scottish ancestry, just doesn't have enough forests for my taste. That I feel so much affinity for English history and culture and Pennsylvania's colonial history I attribute to the power of storytelling to children. It certainly also jump started my fascination with history in general.
So, my conclusion is that unless I move to one of those places that tug at my heartstrings, which would be difficult for the first and implausible for the second, ( thanks to the immigration and government policies of the past several decades, England isn't as English as it used to be and I probably wouldn't feel as at home there anymore), Central Florida will do just as well as anyplace else. As long as we can maintain our present quality of life and the ocean doesn't rise and swallow us up.
We do have lots of sunny weather and the beach is only an hour away from my town. Of course, I don't like the hurricanes and mosquitoes (who would?) and the consistent unfriendliness of neighbors here is disappointing, but at least I know how to deal with the weather and bugs and have been ignoring (most of) my mostly transient neighbors for fifteen years just as they ignore me with no real diminishment in the quality of life that really matters. And I do enjoy the theme parks which are close by, yet far enough away, that the tourists don't come to my little oak canopied town. Heck, most of them think junky International Drive near the parks with one chain restaurant after another is Orlando since that's all they usually see. Which is all right with me since it doesn't make it hard to get a dinner reservation in Winter Park.
And of course my family is here and not likely to pull up stakes for other parts. So, with the real estate situation what it is and especially since it would be a major undertaking just to move down the street from my present location, and I am lazy...uh...a personal energy conservationist, I guess I will stay put and count my sunny day blessings. I guess I better stop looking at Pittsburgh real estate listings and hit the beach.
PS: We're going to visit Virginia next summer. My parents and I used to go there pretty much every other year when I was little. I remember I really loved those trips. I may come back wanting to move there too. Who knows? The ox is slow but the earth is patient.