During my last trip home to rural Michigan I saw deer, coyotes, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, possums, porcupines, turtles, turkeys, and hawks. There are a dozen lakes and two rivers within ten miles of where I grew up. My community was small but close-knit. Even now, years after moving away, I’m still welcomed with genuine affection every time I come back to visit.
When I lived in Tahoe I commuted 40 minutes each way in the winter; it didn’t matter how overworked, tired, or stressed I felt, I always enjoyed that drive. Who wouldn’t? I drove past Lake Tahoe, through picturesque mountain towns, and up to the breath-taking Donner Summit to go ski. All of those gorgeous things were just part of my trip to work, part of my environment. The people I met were usually interesting; everyone was pursuing some ambition. My passion for skiing meant I fit in.
My brief stint in Reno was pleasant. I could see Mt. Rose in the distance (but not too distant) and the Truckee River ran right through downtown. At night the strip was a blur of neon and tourists. Between the casinos and the high unemployment, there were a lot of desperate people, but I still felt safe walking alone. I felt like I could be every part of myself there, without having to explain anything to anyone.
I haven’t found much to appreciate in Spokane. The fall colors are nice, but that’s temporary. The people I meet seem far more settled than I want to be. People my age are married and own houses. Good or bad, they have careers. No one seems to be trying anything new, or deviating from the American dream if they can help it. My wanderlust makes me an oddity, so I’ve stopped sharing much personal information. I don’t belong here.
I think I have a lot to learn about the type of environment I want to live in. I don’t think it’s the geography that matters (as long as I can ski), or the population density. Instead, I think I want to live somewhere where there are interesting, ambitious people. People who are eager to try new things, who like to experiment. The people I surround myself with change my core story.
I plan to move to Los Angeles this spring. I’ve never lived anywhere like it, and I’m very interested to learn how I feel about that environment. Will I find it challenging and stimulating? Or will it feel too busy and overwhelming? What will I learn there?
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What makes an environment home for you? Is it the people? Is the setting enough? Do you consider other things entirely?