Don't get me wrong, we're in a city. We have well over three hundred thousand people in the metropolitan area, if Wikipedia is to be believed. (Jeez I love Wikipedia.)
But it doesn't feel like a city. It feels like a little town.
A huge part of that is our amazing neighbors. There are four houses on our "block," and in each of the houses there are kids ranging from age 2 to 11. I think there are 10 kids in all, although it's hard to get an accurate count because they are all over the place, bouncing in and out of each others' houses, breaking up into small groups and reforming into a larger pack, and generally have a grand time.
You know that old show The Little Rascals? That show is being played out, in living color, in my backyard right now.
For example, I want you to picture this afternoon in all its sunny glory with the temperatures finally sneaking above 60. If you had looked out my kitchen window at about 5pm you would have seen:
- Five little boys whooping and hollering and running back and forth. With no shirts on and in varying stages of filth.
- A girl on the cusp of her tween years, whispering to the dogs as they all loll in the sun together.
- Two bitsy girls sitting in the shade poking at a pile of dirt with sticks and chattering about two totally different things, yet believing they are having a conversation.
- Me, standing on one side of the fence and talking with the next door neighbor as he builds a stone patio for BBQs and the grandma from the next house over.
Every day the kids play outside until called in for dinner. The bigger ones make sure that the younger ones are included, and any parent can step in and mediate when necessary. It's communal life at its very best.
It's glorious I tell you.
And then there is the small group of retail options right down the road. On Saturday morning we walked down to the market, where you can get sandwiches and salads, as well as a variety of high-end luxury food items and accouterments. (Next time I go I'm bringing my glass jar to fill up on artisinal olive oil, which you get from a keg.)
So far we've found a great bistro next door to the market, and around the corner is a pizza place (that everyone else liked, but I thought was a little blah). And between there and home is an amazing park with multiple playground areas and miles of walking paths spread out over acres of rolling hills sprinkled with gazebos.
Paradise? I'm beginning to believe...
We've got new library cards (although I am secretly holding on to my old library account, since we definitely downgraded in terms of audiobooks and e-book options). I'm still on the lookout for a book club, but I have a good lead to check out at the local independent bookstore and cafe.
Sadly, the movie theater isn't playing the new Veronica Mars movie (and will probably never have a good selection of independent movies) but I will happily wait for most things to come out on Netflix a year later.
I found the Amtrak to be a lovely option and easy to navigate, and I anticipate that it will be easy to get up to our old stomping grounds at least once a month or more. That makes me feel better about being so far from family and friends. We're already getting our first visitors (my mom and dad came for four days over last weekend and helped us unpack and get settled -- thanks!!) and I'm busy trying to convince our other friends and family to pick a weekend to come visit.
My stress levels are definitely down. (Except for the wasp thing last week.)
Even though moving is supposed to be one of the most stressful events in a person's life, I've found this change to be a balm for my soul.
I think we made a good choice.