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Another meeting in the wistful longers club, of which I am the only member

Another meeting in the wistful longers club, of which I am the only member

September 19, 2006

Preface: this post is long and rambling and is about ME, not you. If you love living in the middle of nowhere I am happy for you, honestly. I wish I were too. This post sounds way more depressing than I really intend it to be, but I don’t feel like going back and changing it to try and make it sound funny or chipper. There are good things about living here, mostly good things for the children and their Norman Rockwell like existence. I feel like I am constantly evaluating my life on a balance and most of the time it equals out. But then there are times when the suddenly the balance seems to have shifted. This is one of those times.

Twelve years ago I was finishing up grad school, living in a college city and pregnant with my first child. We had just gotten married. Rob had just begun his first real post graduate job. There were a lot of things that we liked about living in a city. Being able to walk places, the theater, the fact that things were open past 6:00pm, and that eating at Red Lobster wasn’t the height of sophisticated dining all come to mind.

Six months later, after watching way too many episodes of This Old House, we would move away from the city to a small town. One that is too far away from any neighboring city to be considered a suburb. I really thought that I would like it. I thought it would be like living in a cross between Country Home and Martha Stewart magazines. I thought that once I was surrounded by the great outdoors, fresh air, and dirt that I would grow to like the outdoors, fresh air and dirt.

I imagined a little vegetable garden outside my kitchen door that would be surrounded by a cute white picket fence with the paint peeling in that delighfully shabby chic way. Somehow those beautiful canning jars filled with tasty homegrown produce would just appear on my windowsill through no effort on my part. It would be like magic. And it would be a good thing.

I have come to realize that shabby chic really just looks shabby outside of a magazine photo and canned produce needs to be stored in a dark cool place like a basement, not with sun streaming through it on the kitchen windowsill, no matter how attractive Martha tells you it will look above your sink.

It was a culture shock. I went from an academic environment where people talked about ideas and issues. Suddenly I was in a place where all the women talked about were recipes, coupons, and the business of their neighbors. And they all seemed to have taken their marriage vows to mean that they are now physically grafted to their husbands and unable to go anywhere after dark without them. I can remember saying to my husband at one point that I used to talk about smart things, and that now I couldn’t even find anyone whose idea of good reading extended beyond People Magazine.

I was actually kicked out of the “coupon club” because I couldn’t keep up with all the rules. It was so stressful all the coupon clipping, organizing and trading and knowing to whom the coupons were supposed to go. Being kicked out of that “club” should have been my first indication to get the hell out of dodge. But instead I was incredibly depressed about it. Why couldn’t I find this life fulfilling? Why couldn’t I enjoy going to candle, avon, and crystal home parties?

People kept saying give it time, you will grow to love it. After awhile I just stopped talking about it and resolved to try harder.

My husband loves living away from all civilization, though I think part of his love of it is that he works in a big city. Therefore he has some balance. In fact his dream is to live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere when he retires, think Swiss Family Robinson meets LLBean. And he might just end up doing that… with his next wife, because I can’t imagine living there.

There was nothing nearby our little farmhouse. I couldn’t even take the kids for a walk in the stroller because it was far too hilly and there was nowhere to walk to anyway. There really isn’t anywhere to drive to either. But other people talk about this like it is a positive.

Three years ago we sold our tiny 200 year old farmhouse that was on a river and moved to the neighboring town into another historic house. This time we are in town. I thought that this would be better. And in some ways it is. Mostly because we bought this house as an investment and I knew it wasn’t long term. The town has nice well funded library. We can walk there. Hmmm, that is about it for positive things I can say. There isn’t anything awful I could say about it either, it’s just… boring.

I think I would probably enjoy living in a small town like this if it were closer to a big city. If there were opportunities for going to the theater, museums, hell, even a Target that was closer than an hour away.

I have gotten really good at biting my tongue. So much so that I rarely talk anymore. I can now pretend I am listening to a conversation while I discreetly pinch my thigh so that I still know that I am alive and scream inside my head.

At some point I just withdrew and stopped trying to find friends. I accepted that it was just how it was going to be. I’m sure that there are people out there that I would love to be friends with, but I am weary from the process now.

Just yesterday I was talking to someone I have been friendly with for ten years. She was telling me a story about the gym she goes to. WHen I suddenly blurted out, “You have been going to that same gym every single day for ten years, to the same Y every afternoon with your kids, the same grocery store, and interacted with the same handful of people for ten years… does it not bother you at all?” And you know what? it doesn’t bother her at all. She finds it comforting, predictable, familiar. Obviously the problem is with me.

After eleven years I finally have come to the realization that it isn’t going to take more time. I am never going to be happy here. I feel like I am biding my time, waiting for my real life to happen. Eleven years is a really long time to do that. A really long time.

Posted by Chris @ 8:49 am  

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Comments

  1. Shellbie says:

    I hate where I am too. It’s a small city, but I am completely bored to tears on a regular basis. Not much helps an ex-army brat cope with being stuck in one place after moving all the time while growing up. The same country folks, the same stores, the same thing day after day and year after year. I miss Europe. I miss CULTURE! I got out of this place twice, only to have my husband drag me right back.
    Hang in there. Too bad that the house isn’t mobile huh!? Would be great if they figured out how to make the old houses that you poured your sweat, tears, and husband’s blood into pack into a suitcase.

  2. Debbie says:

    What is it that you want?

    I mean, specifically. Could you write a list that would make you happy?

    Then what could you do to make this more achievable?

  3. Nicole says:

    I think that lots and lots of people have some version of this. It seems like as you get older it gets so much harder to meet someone with whom you can really be friends. Obviously, living in the middle of nowhere doesn’t help but you can live in the middle of the biggest city and feel the same way. I live in the absolute center of Paris. BUT one by one, all my hard-earned friends (who are expats) are moving away, so I get to look forward to starting the search all over. Then, since the baby has been born, we have the added burden of not being able to go out and meet new people since we have no family close by to babysit and are struggling to find a babysitter. No babysitter, those theatres, restuarants, movies might as well be on the other side of globe. If you are anything like me, you just need to get the rant out. And actually, when I think about it, it probably doesn’t help to say that even if you move, your problem will come with you. But, atleast you hear a voice in the dark saying I know how miserable it can get. And also, you do deserve a bit of selfishness.

  4. meritt says:

    Outside of the “old house” spin on your post, you sound like me. We, however, tend to buy new construction… which sounds better (?) but isn’t. Still needs just as much work as a 100 year old house! LOL.

    We went from living outside Los Angeles, to Nashville, Minneapolis and then? The towns got smaller and now I’m stuck in the middle of no where surrounded by corn fields and the SAME WOMEN YOU ARE.

    Also - I understand Robs situation because Coffeehusband has always worked in ‘the city’ therefore our houses, our small towns and the area we live in doesn’t really affect him like me because he’s only home for about an hour each day before he’s either off to the city to work, or home to eat something and head to bed.

    Now… as much as it sounds like I love the city… I don’t. I don’t want to move back to the city. I would infact like to move to where Rob does. A cabin in the middle of NO WHERE. NO neighbors anywhere near that I can see. I want a garden and some chickens and a nice reliable truck I get get TO the city in IF I want to. But either “no neighbors” or a big city. Nothing inbetween. I’m sick of small towns and their small town lifestyles.

    Wow. I just wrote a novel. Sorry.

  5. jennifer g. says:

    You’re truly not the only member of the Wistful Longers Club, although I belong to a different chapter halfway across the country. I just try to remind myself that my life is what it is right now, but it won’t always be this way. Hang in there!

  6. Six Monkey Jungle says:

    I wish I could say something profound but guess what? That’s me! I have written that post in my head a thousand times. Maybe more. I think sometimes you just know but your utopian mind fights with your right mind (haha) and says “But no - THIS is utopia” and then your right mind retorts “F-ck you”. And that’s the end of it. Or at least that’s my mind. :-)

  7. Karen (lovedalylife) says:

    Hi Chris

    I have been reading your site for a while now, its lovely and refreshing and so normal! I am a beginner blogger… don’t write up everyday… anyhow to get to my point, I SOOOOOOO understand how you feel. I am 31, am living in Hampshire in England, we moved here when I was 26 and always thought this was a stepping stone to Canada or Australia… the UK has grown on us I guess, it is lovely being in an interesting country with lots of little villages, history etc and of course Europe on our doorstep. We have actually just returned from a 5 day trip to Barcelona… it was lovely, BUT my everyday life sounds much like yours. When we were living in London, we did the theatre, restuarants etc and longed for more space once we had a baby. We found this lovely development (estate) about 1.5 hours out of London, okay it is close to two other small cities so we can get to shops and restuarants, but in reality day to day life can be boring too. The same faces around me, the same activities, my little girl wanted to go swimming this morning and I took her but my heart wasn’t in it…. I was bored! I also thought that once I had ‘grown’ up a little, my attitude would change and I could live this idyllic MS lifestyle, but hey my vegetable patch has gone to pot… the broccoli was eaten by moths, the lettuce has grown a meter tall and is inedible…. my dreams just did not excite me! Maybe its because we are expecting too much of everything… things we see on television… yup the trip to Barcelona was good, but at £1300 for 4 nights, it can be a costly city break, we can just do that anytime we please! Chin up girl, we all have glum days and on the whole if we are healthy, have jobs, opportunity, family and love, we have alot.
    xx
    Karen

  8. Jennifer says:

    I am sorry you feel this way. This is exactly how I thought I would feel when we moved here. And, surprisingly, I didn’t. I guess you never know what you want until you have it. Or don’t. Or you never know what you don’t want until you have it. Or whatever. You get my point.

    Anyway, I found that my small town has A LOT to offer. Tons of activities, classes, places to meet other moms, and I mostly don’t participate when I could. A big city is a little over an hour away, and that’s about how long it took me to get anywhere when I lived in New York and Paris and Milan. So really, it’s not half as bad as I thought it would be. And I have all this extra SPACE!

  9. Jennifer says:

    and non-moms. I know a lot of non-moms too. And they are sometimes more fun that the moms.

  10. Sheryl says:

    I like some things about living in a small town, but next time, I think we’ll choose a big city. Our library doesn’t even have a David Foster Wallace book in it. That’s just wrong. I really, really, REALLY miss having friends to hang out with though. Really.

    “Kicked out of the coupon club” has got to be your next tag line.

  11. Mir says:

    There’s nothing worse than the feeling of waiting for your life to start when you’re (obviously) already living it. You’re on the cusp of a change, methinks. This is just your mind prepping for it.

    I’m sorry it’s hard right now. I will have to come over some weekend and kidnap you and take you to Target. ;)

  12. Meg says:

    Sheryl, ours has one and I have it checked out…:)

    I understand, Chris. And I don’t even live in a small town. It helps to be on a university campus, though.

    Wanna come visit me? Ditch the kids for a week and come hang with me…I know a lot of non parents who are fun…

  13. Playdate Susan says:

    I had a similar experience when we moved from Seattle to Oklahoma. I left a teaching job I loved to stay home with my son, which was entirely overwhelming; I left a place where the people around me were left leaning intellectuals who read smart books and talked about how to change the balance of wealth and power in the world and came to a place where the first thing people asked was, “Where do you go to church?” I felt like I left part of myself behind when we came here, and I still miss her terribly.

    Despite the fact that I know we will stay here forever, I can’t really see myself staying here forever. And I don’t really know what to make of that.

    This is a beautful, thoughtful post. I’m so glad you wrote about this.

  14. Christina says:

    I can understand the “other mommies syndrome” completely. We have lived in our neighborhood since before kids, and before kids we were friendly with most of our neighbors, but now the kids don’t really get along so we don’t really hang out anymore. I have found that the rules (or lack of them!) in their homes have made it hard for me, I think I’m normal and they are weird, but they probably think we’re the weird ones. Anyway, we live in a suburb of a big city so we do have a Target just down the road and several Starbucks (chai tea is my salvation some days) but I could use with a few mommies who don’t think I’m weird for having 3 kids and staying home to raise them.

  15. Debbie says:

    I had this same conversation with my family members this weekend, and with my dh’s family members two weekends ago.

    It seems that in both small towns (the one I grew up in and the one my dh grew up in which is where I am now) most of the people love living there (or here.)

    They don’t long for theaters, cute unique shops, FUN, DIFFERENT things to do within WALKING distance….

    We don’t have a Target, either, and I haven’t even SEEN half of the restaurants that my sister talks about going to.

    Thing is, at least where I grew up they were only 15 MINUTES away from just about everything you could want.

    Me. Here. Now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    And I had wanted a Chicago or New York. And I got this. I know my kids are fine, and maybe safer. But truth is, I’D be happier, and isn’t that worth SOMETHING?

    But I’ve given up, too. Sorrr you feel the same way.

  16. Maddy says:

    Chris, I’m sorry you don’t love where you are. I always marvel at your great pictures, home improvements, etc. It seems like a wonderful place to live from the photos. I also suffer from not having great friendships. I used to work at a university, and was around all these smart, fun women. But I’m sorry to say that my new world includes the coupon-clipper mommies and it’s not going so well. No words of advice, just sympathy. You are not alone…

  17. Novaks8 says:

    Funny, I read your comments every day and know that there are so many people who think you have the perfect life.

    Do we always want what we don’t have?

  18. Jodi@OC says:

    OMG! I could have written that word for word.

    I live in a town of 100 people in a 100 year old house with most of the town’s population creeping up to 100 years of age.

  19. Lilly says:

    My thought is that you have a spectacular life but unless you get some more diversity into it you’re not going to appreciate it for what it is.
    It’s tough with seven kids but is there a way that you can arrange go off alone more often to get your fix of culture/intellectual stimulation? More frequent trips to the city or finding and spending more adult time with smart friends?
    Have you seen the movie ‘The Family Man’ with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leone? Cage is a city slicker businessman who lives in the city and is smart and savvy and on top of his game in every way. One Christmas morning he wakes up in a parallel universe next to his college girlfriend. They’ve been married twelve years, two kids, house in Jersey and he works at his father-in-law’s tire store. It’s where he’d be if he had made different choices back at the end of college. He tries to get back to his old life in the city but soon realizes that the mundane new life is in fact richer than the life he had before. It’s kind of a ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ kind of movie.

  20. Darren McLikeshimself says:

    I know what you mean, Chris. I really think it’s less about the place and more about the person. I think I told you one time about that part of “High Fidelity” where Nick Hornby writes about how it’s possible to escape to the city but still live a very hum-drum, suburban life. That’s how I feel about myself. I may live in New York, but there doesn’t really seem to be anything New York-like about my life.

  21. meredith says:

    I think you are feeling a way a lot of women can end up feeling when they become moms. A part of our pre-child self becomes isolated from who we once were, whether we are in a big city or not. Finding a friend you can relate to would probably be easier in a bigger city, but don’t give up hope, there has to be some like minded woman out there in your small town that you just haven’t met, yet. But I doubt she’s in the coupon club :)

  22. JO says:

    I’ve lived my entire life in a big city and I love it. We have recently talked of moving and I discovered that my priority is…what is in walking distance. I need a park, a library, shops, restaurents and music. I do understand.

  23. Katie says:

    I could have written your post a few years ago when we lived in Ohio and my husband was traveling a lot. Of course he was happy, he had the small town charm part of the time and then the fun big city half the time. Me, I was just bored (but I could walk to the library, the one redeeming factor of being there).

    Now in Maryland, I’m loving the town we are in. There’s so much to do for me and the kids, DC is just down the road, the ocean is a few hours away. And people are intelligent, this area has one of the highest US percentages of graduate degrees.

    Although I can’t walk to the library… (And ironically, my husband hates it here and wants to move back to Ohio.)

  24. Erin says:

    I feel the laughter of crazy welling-up in my gut, because I understand the feeling of isolation. I too was in college when I was pregnant with my first baby. I also used to have smart friends.
    I live closer to a city than you do, but am isolated in my own way, have accepted it, and become a hermit in my world.
    Anyway, I feel for you. I mean, being able to drive to Target within 20 minutes is a small consolation, but consolation it is.

  25. Charlotte says:

    I’m delurking to say, I can relate. This post really struck a chord with me.

    We moved from the city to the small town my husband grew up in to the very house that he grew up in.

    The deal we made to talk me into moving here was that we would be able to afford to keep me at home with the cheaper cost of living and my husband still telecommuting for a city salary.

    Well, his company ended up downsizing and I’m now the primary breadwinner, and we now struggle to live on small town wages. We still live in his childhood home (read old and needs lots of work) and will probably never leave because of my husband’s attachment.

    Family and friends he knew growing up have moved away. I had to go back to work before I even got pregnant, so my baby has been in daycare since she was 6 weeks old (no FMLA leave for small companies). There is nothing here but Walmart. Culture includes Nascar and tractor pulls.

  26. owlhaven says:

    What?!? Eating at Red Lobster ISN’T the height of sophisticated dining????

    Say it isn’t so.

    Mary, resident of another Hickville (that thankfully DID just get a brand new Target)

  27. MommyHAM says:

    You described my highschool experience. We went from a nice suburban area rich with culture in the Pacific NW to Cow-Town USA, aka, Craig, CO.

    I agree with Mir….sounds like you’re on the brink of change. Excitment dead ahead! (hopefully:-))

  28. AB says:

    Mir is right. Something strange is afoot at the Circle K and with the change of seasons too…bound to stir up all kinds of stuff.

  29. jessica says:

    Chris, I really admire you because you surrendered to parenthood which is so hard to do - and you do lose your sense of self when you do this because it is one of those tough love decisions - surrender Dorothy! or else the kids don’t get all they need - only some of what they need. That being said, while I am loathe, loathe to recommend any book as a cure-all - Simple Abundance is great - I found it one day whilst browsing the Salvation Army and it basically saved my life and helped me to take back some of the person I gave away when I became a parent. It gave me the courage to start my own business and also to start the long trek back to being Jessica again and not just a Mom and Wife.
    Chris, you enrich my life every day! I only wish I had found you when my kids were smaller. You would have made it that much easier.

  30. Jen says:

    Why can’t I get the Green Acres theme out of my head ?

    I live in a big city and half the time I long for a place like yours. I’m sure once there I’d change my mind. You see, I grew up in a small town where I was related to a third of the people and hated it ! Whenever I feel that I’m not doing enough with my life I feel the need for change. From all the comments, I’m not alone.

    There MUST be someone else near you that longs for the same things. What about a book club ? You could post something at the library with the title and synopsis of the first book - then surely you’ll meet other women that you can talk with on things outside of recipes and such. The same group could also plan overnight trips into the city.

    Hang in there -

  31. maria says:

    Interesting - I grew up in small town Iowa and never really felt comfortable. Moved to the city for grad school and never looked back. Now I think wouldn’t it be nice to move half way across the country to be closer to my family, find a job there. Then I realize - I never liked it when I did live there, what on earth makes me think I’d like it now?

    You are so articulate. I guess your post makes me ask - so what are you going to do about it. Wonder if there’s a way of finding others who feel the same way. Of course, I know you have tons of free time (tongue in cheek!)- the Mom in me wants to fix something that probably can’t be fixed. Thanks again for a thoughtful post.

  32. Beth says:

    I feel your pain. I feel that in the city, you can have the best of both worlds by living in neighborhoods that have a definite personality. They can feel like a small town, but the restaurants are good and stay open until all hours.

    I wonder if your situation would be different in a university small town….

  33. Ursa says:

    Something must be in the air. I am crying for the past week because I feel lonely. I moved across the Ocean to be with my husband and therefore left my family and friends behind. I live in a small town for the last four years and find it unbelievable to not be able to find a like minded friend. I have no idea if it is an American culture (closed in) or it is just me not going to church and socializing there.
    I know my week of crying will pass and like Chris I will just resign more. I am getting weary of the conversations I hold with my self. It is getting very lonely.

  34. Woman with Kids says:

    I know exactly what you mean, “I feel like I am biding my time, waiting for my real life to happen.”

    That’s it exactly.

  35. Susan says:

    I’m sorry, Chris. I really can relate in many ways.

    I live in a town of 30,000, and the next nearest town/city is literally 90 miles away. Only difference is, the drive between towns is not even scenic; it’s sagebrush and catcti and tumbleweeds. After 25 years of living here (my parents moved me here as a teenager), I have become accustomed to it, and I really have made amazing friendships which I’m pretty sure are my biggest saving grace. That, and a very reliable car and enough money to leave any time the urge strikes, which is often.

    But sometimes it gets to me — to all of us. I would love to have more than Mervyn’s, Kmart or Walmart to shop at. A mall would be amazing. A Target. Anything. I think my only saving grace, if you can call it that, is that I work outside the home so I don’t have to be home all day with nowhere to go. Now, believe me, I still complain EVERY SINGLE DAY that I am not a SAHM like I’d always wanted to be, but I honestly think if I had to be one in this town, I’d go absolutely berserk.

    Not only that, but my job… oh, my job. I work for the government. In an area where, well… I could tell you about it but then I’d have to kill you. Just kidding. I’m sure you’ve seen the title of my branch on my e-mails.

    Wanna see where I work? It’s the little u-shaped building on the far left. See that landscape? Goes on for miles and miles. This is my “escape” each day. ROFLMAO No wonder I’m slowly going insane. Or maybe not so slowly. http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-3/975353/SaltWells.jpg

    One of my friends said it looks like I work on the moon. Maybe I do and just don’t realize it.

    Okay, I know you said this was about YOU and not anyone else, but I want to say I can empathize, at least in some small way. Misery loves company, right?

    Sending you hugs!!

  36. M&Co. says:

    Peace.

  37. Colleen says:

    I have been ready to move for the past 3 years, but then we made a bunch of changes to the house and built the garage-majal for my husband to have space to work on his cars. Now it’s been agreed that we’ll spend the next year getting the house ready to sell so we can look at moving. Except we’re not on the same page there. He wants property. I say we can’t keep up with the 3/4 acre lot we have now. He wants peace and quiet and no neighbors. I’m dying to be able to let my kids go play in the neighborhood with other kids so I don’t constantly have to TAKE them somewhere for them to have time with other kids. I want to be able to jog around a neighborhood on a sidewalk rather than risk death by running on these country roads.

    For me, the real dilemma becomes, how do we make both people happy? What’s the common ground? That’s what causes me the most anxiety. I don’t want to settle for what he wants, why should I expect him to do the same? I love him and he loves me, but this is a big issue.

    Anyway, this is just my long-winded way of saying, I do understand. Apparently, so do a lot of others. Take care!

  38. Rebecca says:

    I think it’s because of the change of seasons - I’ve been complaining about exactly the same thing, too. We live in the sticks - moved back here five years ago after living (rather unsuccessfully) in a small city for a long time. Now everyone is happy here but me - I do have friends and some of them are very, very cool, but I want bookstores and museums and places to walk that aren’t exactly the same place I went to yesterday. And there’s no way we could move anywhere without uprooting the kids from their family, their friends, their community and without taking a horrible financial hit. So it’s not reasonable to expect any changes, and meanwhile I feel like my life is just slipping by. Sigh.

  39. Karen says:

    I’m so sorry that you are unhappy, especially when you bring so much laughter into my days! Hang in there!

  40. Kellie says:

    You are NOT the only memeber of the Club–I, too, am a member but, I happen to live in a suburb of Albany, NY. Doesn’t matter. My days are spent at home with my 8 1/2 month old daughter, doing laundry, washing/making bottles, eBaying and making my list for Target. I have no friends within an hour of me and each day, I find myself wondering what to do to keep myself from going crazy. All of us feel like you do–regardless of where we live. Hang in there–I read your blog faithfully and am sad that you’re sad :(

  41. rachel says:

    it’s so hard to find friends and happiness in a small town. I’ve been hoping to find a small town that was close enough to cities for culture, etc. My parents live an hour from me, but still within an hour from Boston, and their town has a ton of fun stuff.

    I wish our house was within walking distance of something other than the beach (I love the beach! just that’s the only thing within 3 miles). But otherwise everything is 30 min away, and Boston is a little less than an hour, so we can have culture (plus there are other smaller cities nearby too).

    I hope you can find a way to make your life real. I think you’re cool, and I know I’d get kicked out of the coupon club too. Remember the joke about not wanting to be in any club that wants me as a member!

  42. Meg's Mom says:

    I feel this pain, because I lived it. BUT, you have escapes that we didn’t have years ago. You can order your books from Amazon (buy them used, for heaven’s sake) and you can travel from your home to wherever your web browser will take you. AND you have friends who can empathize - although they are spread out all over the globe!

    30 years ago, I was in the armpit of America - only the other 30,000 people living there thought it was God’s Eden! They thought I was strange because I had an education and wanted to use it (I also liked - still do - to cook and garden and do needlework). I found one person in town who became a friend (I’m sure there were others only I didn’t find them). It was a university town - only the university was also in the dark ages. I got out (thank God for my sanity to make that move).

    I’m much happier now - close to a big city, but in a small town. I still have all the ugliness of a small town (and they can be VERY ugly), but I have the opportunity to escape. This is not where I want to live and it’s not where my husband wants to live, but we’ve found it to be the best compromise. And I suspect that’s what you need. A compromise - a place that has ’stuff’ for you as well as a place that allows you to raise your children in your own style. I don’t know exactly how small your town is, but I suspect that their are other women who are feeling what you feel in your town - you just don’t know who they are.

    Do your homework . . .find a place and move. BUT don’t move until you know where you’re going and if you’ve got it right this time.

    Hugs and good luck.

  43. Jen says:

    I think every one probably feels the way you do at one time or another… I’m sorry that you are feeling down today.

  44. Bluepaintred says:

    chris, I got my mug in the mail yesterday. Its HUGE , Ive been drinking coffee like its going out of style. My inlaws are really amused with the picture and caption on the mug LOL

    thanks for a wonderful prize and for a wonderful read!

  45. Jennifer says:

    ((((HUGS))))I could never live out in the country, and I didn’t know you did, but I don’t see how you do it. You’re like me…sociable and fun, and I can’t imagine being isolated like you are. I have to be able to get to Wal-Mart…to get away sometimes when the kids get on my last nerve.
    After my bout with depression (and hospitalization, blech) last summer, I learned that my life could not revolve around little people and their wants all day long. I love my children, but I needed something for me, and that’s why I’m going back to school to get my Certified Nurse Midwife degree. I had gotten into the rut of trying to be someone else to please everyone else, and I hated who I was…it wasn’t ME. I’m learning to be me, and other people can take it or leave it.
    I love reading your blog, I love your personality and your attitude, and girl, you have tons of friends who care not a bit about couponing or Tupperware (although I do sll candles, and love Pampered Chef) and love you for who you are. I wish I could help…I feel like I’ve been there, done that…I feel like I know where you’re coming from. Big hugs. (((HUGS)))

  46. momslo says:

    We made the same transition about three years ago. We live close to a wonderful city- San Luis Obispo, a small town really and the coast- but both larger cities are 2-3 hours away-

    It’s like living on an Island-this small town life and It can feel like your totally cut off- it’s been a hard adjustment for me- and not for my husband- who is in San Francisco 3 days week-I know your pain.

    my friend (a newbie here too from L.A.) laugh about being outcast and the only people in town who have a history-a crazy sordid history- everyone here in our small town seem so pure!

    We laugh that the people we have made friends with are all “winery” people!

    hey, there you go-got any wineries in your area?- go meet some drunks!

    It’s hard I know exactly what your feeling.

  47. Chris says:

    Chin up Chris, things will get better. I’ve been there too. My kids are all grown now, I’m an empty nester and living in downtown Chicago. Love It! I live right by DePaul University and every day I awake I still after 4 years here feel as if I’m on vacation. I love the city and how it makes one feel alive everyday. Never lacking for someone to share conversation with. My kids are happy they grew up in the burbs and made lifelong friends there. They too now love the city. Things will get better….to hell with the coupon club, you are better than that. I for one, love, love reading your posts. So in that sense, you are not alone. Seems like you have a lot of followers. Tell Rob to find a job here, I would love to sit and chat and have coffee/tea with you. Hell I wouldn’t mind babysitting either. Smile…you have alot going for you! Good Luck. Um, my bad, I wrote a damn book here.

  48. Theunperfectmother says:

    Sigh.

    I am in Heidelberg, Germany. Full of culture, and close by to all of Europe.

    And I HATE it here.

    But I think what I really hate is this apartment that I can not move out of. It is the most depressing thing that I have ever seen. I feel like I am decaying in a cattle truck.

    But, I do get to move soon. Now I am going to Texas. Yipppee.

  49. Flamenco Mom says:

    Chris, you are not alone–I too am a wistful longer. I love your blog and read it daily. As sad as reading this post made me, I’m glad you said what you did–because a great number of us moms feel the same way. I feel like I want to move on from where we live right now; I just don’t see how I could be happy here long term. I’ve found it hard to find enduring friendships and interesting things to do. My husband and I both are feeling the “gypsy” in us. Stay strong, and thanks for being so honest and so eloquent. Take care.

  50. nddc says:

    Just to make you feel better, I have one kid, work full time, live 1/2 hour away from the city. So being at work doesn’t mean you have smart conversations. It’s also about bitching about back stabbing co-workers, fierce competion for bonus. We are able to make only 4 trips to the city last year. Friends? The ones that have older children hang together. The ones that are single are not interested either.

    But to know I can go to the city anytime I want, that’s comforting.

  51. Brigitte says:

    Good thing you have all your “imaginary” friends, at least. I’ve always liked the boonies, except for the people frequently (not all of them!) being a bit closed-minded. Then again, I’m an anti-social wench, so I’ve never even bothered trying to get into the “coupon clipping club”.

    I’ve also spent my whole life waiting for my life to start, but I have no clue what I really want, either. Sometimes I don’t actually want to go through the strain of LIVING my life, I just want to fast-forward close to the end so I can just reminisce about it without having gone through the hassle. I think stay-at-home-mommying (plus your extra burden of home-schooling - you’re never rid of them!) contributes to the trapped feeling. Maybe in a couple decades when they’re mostly gone . . . >>>sigh!

  52. Pamela says:

    Chris - Although you do not have what you long for in person, you are building good relationships with women all around the globe that read your work daily. You encourage us, make us laugh and make us think. I wish we were closer to share shopping trips to Target, but I hope you read the comments here and see that you do have a thriving community around you.

  53. peepnroosmon says:

    Chris,
    I am sending hugs to you. I’m sorry you feel isolated. I guess everybody feels that way at sometime or another. My hubby wants to move us farther into the sticks. Away from both of our families. I keep fighting him. I don’t want to move. He wants to get away from the city even though we live an hour away from it.
    You make me laugh every day and I so much enjoy reading your blog. I will pray for peace for you.
    Love,
    Jennifer

  54. Tammie says:

    I can relate. I’ve been in the same house for 10 years, and although I’m only a few minutes away from civilization, I worry that I will live here forever. Sometimes, I feel as though the world is passing me by, while I’m sitting here in my house. But still, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

  55. Cathy C says:

    Friends. I think making friends in this town has been my saving grace. That and working out side the house 2 days a week, which brings me into contact with other people. I moved to a pretty small town 6 years ago from a big city, and I thought I would go INSANE when I thought of what I would do during my 4 month maternity leave. How many people do you know who dread taking the time off? But I got lucky. I went to a breast feeding class at the hospital and met this wonderful girl there (I was just visiting her this morning). I met 4 other awesome girls there in the next few weeks, and you know what? 2 1/2 years later we are best friends. 5 of the 6 of us are transplants from other states, so we don’t have our families nearby. We’ve become like sisters. Friends are key to making you happy. I love thinking that I could love living where I grew up just so I could be near my family (near a city, lots of sidewalks and you can walk to anything), but I know that I would HATE it. I would hate it because I don’t like the culture of the people living there. With 30,000 people in that town, I know I would feel utterly alone. It’s the friends that make you happy, not the location necessarily.

  56. Amanda says:

    You live 60 mintues from Target??

    You’re braver than you know.

  57. Cathy C says:

    Amanda, you are so funny! I had to click on your blog to make sure you weren’t really my friend Laura. She would probably live in Target if her husband didn’t mind, LOL.

  58. Jennifer says:

    Delurking to say you nailed it with, “I feel like I am biding my time, waiting for my real life to happen.”

    I have felt that way many times. I think my husband would be content living so far out he’d have to pipe in sunshine. I don’t know that I’ll ever understand that.

  59. Jen says:

    This weekend, I finally had enough and told my husband that, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

    I have no idea what needs to change or how to go about it, but something has to give before I sink and take the family down with it.

    I can survive with the way things are, but I am so miserably lonely and bored (even though I am constantly surrounded by my kids and their playthings).

  60. Erin says:

    I love where I live. Its a suburb with a university and lots of places to go and things to do. Its fifteen minutes to half an hour from Baltimore city and only an hour from Washington DC. Its relatively near 95 so its convient for traveling too. I grew up here, went to college here and am now trying to find a job here. I really doubt I’ll ever leave.

  61. Deb says:

    Chris -
    I’ve come out of lurkdom with this one. I’ve read your blogs daily for the last six months. I’m always amazed at your ability to look on the bright side when the daily grind (for lack of a better word) gets you down. I am SO with you on this subject. I, too, seem to be waiting for my life to start and, since I’m 40 years old, it had better start soon! I live out in the country in a great house with my husband and three kids. Nice subdivision, a Target, Pier One, grocery stores within 10 miles. But, something is missing. I have nothing, it seems, in common with my neighbors and my friends are all so wrapped up in their lives (rightfully so) that we don’t get together much anymore. And I don’t know what to do about it. I go to bed after running around all day after kids, laundry, my lowly part time job because I just want to day to be over. And, my life is great! Why does it seem that I’m letting my life go by?

    Sigh, well, I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone. And sorry for writing a novel!
    Deb

  62. jen3 @ amazing triplets says:

    Not to mention, your creepy neighbors steal rocks from your wall. I think what you need is some good wholesome people to drink heavily with, at least once a week. Then, things would look much brighter. Just imagine if you had magaritas and your fancy dip to look forward to every Tuesday at 3 PM. Wouldn’t that be fun?

    Seriously. I’m sure you know, it’s all about your attitude. Last week, I almost returned our children to the IVF doctor that got us pregnant because I felt like my head was going to POP with three toddlers. Even though I am surrounded by people I, too can feel SO isolated at times … and I find myself saying “WTF. I didn’t sign up for this.”

    This little passage by Chuck Swindol is something I read EVERYDAY (I made a minor edit, doubt you’ll notice). I hope you enjoy it:

    The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain ways. We may not be able to immediately change the fact that we live smack dab in the middle of BFE. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our ATTITIUDES.

    So with that … I’ll also say, life is short. Think of where you want to be in 1, 3, 5 years. If it’s NOT where you are now … then make a move. You only come this way once.

  63. the womom says:

    I go through phases like this. I am usually aware that I am in a funk and then go a bit nuts trying to get out of it. I like spontaneity. I like adventure. I like excitement. I like friends. I like being alone. I like being a mom. Sometimes my likes just don’t go together! It’s hard not liking where you live. I did that for a few years, then decided it was bad feng shui so I made the conscious effort to snap out of it. Which is pretty lame, but feeling lame all day everyday was pretty lame too.

  64. Mocha says:

    Come pick me up. I’m in the club, too. You just didn’t know that. That’s how it tricks us. It makes us believe that we are the only members of this club when there are more served that the Golden Arches can boast of, Chris.

    I’m with you. I just beat you by one year. Twelve.

    Except I’m not allowed to write about those things.

  65. Kari says:

    I can relate to everyone’s comments! It looks like you hit the nail on the head with this post! I just want to wear a sign around my neck that tells people what I used to do in my former life (aka before kids). You know - I am not a stay-at-home mom because I can’t find a job, I am a stay at home mom because I want to be. I DO have a brain in my head and I AM able to use it for things other than cleaning the bathrooms and figuring out what to feed the kiddies for lunch and dinner. It is so frustrating that so many people dismiss you and your ideas just because you stay at home. Dang! I get all worked up about this. I should stop now. Anyway, thanks for the post and putting this frustrating situation into words.

  66. Nicki says:

    Sounds like the town I grew up in. Populater 2,000 or less. Not a thing to do. I feel your pain. That’s why I moved to the big city. Couldn’t get out fast enough.

  67. Lawanda says:

    It’s ok, one good thing about it, like you said it is temporary, right?

    I have lived in (I should say near) the same town all my life. Very podunk. Red Lobster IS the height of sophistication, and we only just got it about 10 years ago!

    I am hoping to visit NYC soon (I am so pumped, I am gonna see a play on Broadway, and go to so many other exciting places, and I am just SO STOKED… oh sorry…), and NOBODY understands this. SO I sorta feel ya pain. ;)

  68. liz says:

    Big hugs. I know how hard it is to live in a place you don’t feel at home in.

  69. jen says:

    getting kicked out of coupon club is awesome. love it. i hate coupon club.

  70. loony in barnsley says:

    Hi,stumbled upon your blog just now, read your latest entry and decided that I had to leave a comment even if you seem to have some comments reading to do judging by the sheer volume of response you got.
    Your post read eerily like one of mine. I started blogging about half a year ago and my entries are all pretty much about how I will never feel at home where I currently am. I’ve gone through the same motions as you and I’m now past the point of making any effort. Everyday I feel like my life is on hold. That someone else is living the life that is rightfully mine. It’s been almost 6 years and I am hopeful that it wouldn’t take much longer before I can resume ‘living’ again but until then, I just simply have to blog about it… My heart goes out to you…

  71. april says:

    Ditto. Except I’m looking for the perfect old house in the perfect location near the people I know and I’m finding it doesn’t exist. So even if I do find what I think I’m longing for, will that really be it? We are all making a sacrifice for something; our kids, our job, our lifestyle.

    I do hope you find some good friends, that can make the middle of nowhere seem a lot closer to home.

  72. Danielle says:

    I’m right there with you babe! We’ve been here since the beginning of July and I’m already going crazy. I keep trying to figure out when my life is going to begin.

  73. ephelba says:

    It’s like being trapped. I was hoping it would get better. Maybe I should make plans now to move back, huh?

  74. Lisa says:

    Are you maybe feeling even more dissatisfaction now because after many, many years, you are finally moving out of the baby stage? You are on the cusp of a bit more freedom and there’s no place to explore in small town, USA? Mir may be right that you are on the cusp of change because it’s finally possible.

    It is incredibly hard to make friends when you are a mommy- no matter if you are in a big city or BFE. It’s worse than dating. That’s why there are websites now to for mommy hookups.

    Enough of my psychobabble, I grew up in Los Angeles and now live in a small Maine town outside of a city. I was borderline content until they put in a Target. Now I feel deeply satisfied.

  75. andrea from the fishbowl says:

    My own isolation is largely self-imposed. I know there are things I could be doing to snap out of it, but here I am.

    But your situation isn’t long term, although 11 years does seems like a long time. How much longer will you wait I wonder.

  76. Heather says:

    Chris,
    I know exactly what you mean by the dreadful feeling of biding your time, while waiting for your real life to happen. I too feel the same way, although its not related to where I live. Well, I guess in a way it is. My husband is a year away from graduating from school. And everything in my life right now seems as though its in limbo, awaiting the day he will actually have a REAL job and we wont need to live paycheck to paycheck anylonger. I feel like my life now is just day in and day out ho hum, just waiting for that happy moment to arrive when we can buy a house and be financially less stressed out. And it SUCKS. Its so funny that I would read your post tonight, because its exactly what I was thinking about while driving in to work this morning. I hope that you find inner peace somehow.

    OMG, I would die if I had to drive an hour to the closest Target. That would drive me nuts. How far does Rob have to commute into work? I know you live in Connecticut and with the snow in the winter months??!! Yikes!! I have an hour drive into work and I live in Phoenix, with no snow! LOL.. Or does he have a helicopter and your holding out on us and not telling? LOL ;)

  77. theotherbear says:

    What on earth is a coupon club? I have never heard of one.

    This post makes me really glad I put my foot down when hubby suggested we move to the sticks. We stayed in the city (well, a suburb half an hour out of the city) and need to be able to walk to pubs, restaurants, parks, public transport, etc or I’d hate it.

    Of course being in the city does not make it easier to make likeminded friends - that one’s hard wherever you are!

  78. InterstellarLass says:

    Amen. I’m not friends with PTA parents. We have nothing in common. I live in the “Big City” and I think I’d like to live somewhere smaller. But it has to have a Target and a Starbucks. I’m not crazy enough to give that up!

    I’ve often had that feeling that I’m waiting for my life to begin. That I’m just getting through this part of it, and when I don’t have little children to attend to, then I’ll be able to focus on me. But I can’t wait that long. So I make seemingly selfish choices from time to time to remind myself that I matter too!

  79. kathy says:

    Is the “B” season over already? No more getting sloshed with the opposing teams parents? Shucks. Well, you know, all you need to do get your priorities right. Stop working on the damn house and commit some of the 20 acres of backyard to a nice cement pad complete with 30amp hookups. You never know when we might do the East coast. :)

    I never imagined how lonsome it would be stuck in Stepfordville.

    Don’t chin up, wallow for a bit. You’re entitled.

  80. Fold My Laundry Please says:

    I live in a small town in the middle of rural Idaho, so I feel your pain. I get lonesome here and often long for the convenience of things like restaurants nearby so that I can go out to eat without having to drive an hour just to reach mediocrity. However, I remember when I lived in Phoenix, and even if they did manage to freeze hell over, I wouldn’t go back to that hectic lifestyle for anything! I guess I’m stuck in lifestyle limbo…

  81. Bessi says:

    I live in a huge metropolis. All that “culture” you’re missing - it costs a lot of money. Plus you have to fight for parking, which you pay for the priveledge. All those “intellectual” non-moms. How boring, I wish they would sit around and talk about real life (you know, kids and husbands and how hard marriage and parenting is). And speaking of boring… everything I could possibly want (store, restaurant, whatever) is within easy reach here. But it’s all the same…every shopping center has the same stores and restaurants as every other one. But the thing I really miss is seasons. What I would give to be back in a small town with seasons. Everyone else moves here because the weather is perfect. I can’t wait to get out of here. Just the Army brat in me, I guess.

  82. Janet says:

    I lasted 13 years out in the boonies. Then one day packed up and walked away.

    I’m not recommending this course of action just letting you know that I understand.

  83. judi casey says:

    i am so with you on this.
    we live in suburban maryland and i am longing to return to the city life.
    i can totally empathize with you. at least our suburbs are fairly intellectually stimulating- that helps-but i miss the dynamic nature of the city and perhaps the anonymity too.

  84. Maddy says:

    Jen says:
    Why can’t I get the Green Acres theme out of my head ?

    I had that same tune too, Chris I guess you are the Eva Gabor of your town. And “Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue” can be your theme song.

  85. Rae says:

    I hear you, girl. My honeymoon is just about over in these here woods o’mine. Target is an hour and half away. Heck, for fun my friends and I race each other to the mail box. For special fun we look at each other with a special gleam in our eyes. Wanna go get the post office box mail? is what that gleam says, either that or go to that torturous excuse of a restaurant they call a pizzeria and wait for them to forget our order again. This sounds like Monty Python (Well, when I was a kid we lived in a rolled up newspaper in the middle of the road). There are the Redwood Bear carvings, though, if we’re ever in the mood for shopping. No shortage of Redwood Bears.

    I’ve decided I just can’t have it all. When we were in San Francisco there was no shortage of good food and we even went dancing at times. But I couldn’t breathe anymore and I was about to have a hernia from parking for seven hours a day. Here, um, it’s a pain and we have the beauty of our community, but… it’s a pain. And our neighbors steal from us. So, maybe one day we’ll find a place that feels more like home. Until then, writing it all down helps.

    And shabby without the magazine and without even the ‘chic’ is just, well, ghetto.

  86. geminishadow says:

    You sound just like me! I thought I’d love it here in the middle of nowhere, I mean I grew up in a small town, so whats the differance, oh except that I don’t even live in town i’m like ten minetes from it. Its just miserable for me here. However, my husband loves it….so what am i gonna do?

  87. Ani says:

    You are not alone. We are here with you, going thru the same thing.

    So, big hugs, deep breaths, and know that you are part of a much bigger club than you might think.

  88. Sandy says:

    Are there so many of you unhappy with where you live? I’m so sorry. I wish I could bring you all to my neighborhood, where people are friendly–although we don’t have a “coupon club”, so we must be missing out on something.

    Stick with the Norman Rockwell town. It’s giving you and your family many opportunities to rely on each other.

  89. sara says:

    I completely understand too. I am poised on the brink of moving right now, my kids are excited, my husband is excited, and so am I. We are moving from teeny tiny small town life to a big city. My kids have only ever known small town life, and I want them to experience the other side of it. I have made friends here though, and it will be so very hard to leave them…and everyone (mostly) thinks we are crazy for leaving the woods for the city…I don’t think we are..who knows? I feel like you do…I SHOULD be happy here, but I’m not. And that has to change, because really, life is too short.

  90. Tracy says:

    Hmm…I have never even eaten at Red Lobster and don’t care to.
    Happiness, they say is not what or where you are, but WHO you are. I haven’t figured that out in my 41 years on this earth but I am here still. I think I understood myself much better as a child than I have ever understood myself as an adult. Frankly, I think I’m best when left to myself and I don’t have to have any clubs or parties because they are absolutely, as you say, boring. I too share with the the lack of friends, but I am ok with that because they’d just annoy me and I’d want to smack them all the time anyhow. Give me a good book and a quiet room with all the things I enjoy and I am fine.

  91. marta says:

    Hi there!
    I’ve been reading you for a year or so. It’s my favourite blog ever but this is the first time I comment.
    Ok, I live in a capital city in a country in Europe. We have tons of good restaurants, theatres, museums, bookshops, shopping centres, universities. 90% of my friends live here, ditto for my family. I have three kids and since the oldest was born (6 years ago) I’ve only been to any of these a handful (ok, two handfuls) of times.
    I guess that when you have children you just cannot do it all anymore. Nor a part of it. You just do a bit, teeny tiny bit. I don’t have babysitters nor am particularly fond of the idea, I WAH when the kids nap and at night (translations) so any time without the kids is work/errands time, my parents aren’t yet retired, my friends are likeminded in what concerns everything but parenting… I could go on and on.
    The point is, your life changes completely if you have 7 kids and homeschool. If you were doing it in the big city, either a) you’d have given up by baby no 3; b) you wouldn’t be homeschooling; c) you’d want to run away to the woods.
    If you’re happy with your wonderful kids and w/ homeschooling, i guess that’s what really matters in the long run.
    Just try to have your husband looking after the kids some more (or find another carer solution you feel comfortable with) and drive to the nearest point of interest on your own to meet your old friends once or twice a month. Maybe that would help.
    Love
    Marta

  92. nabbalicious says:

    I can kind of relate, feeling pretty unhappy about where I’m living right now, too. At least I’m in the city and it satisfies that side of me, but it’s also kind of boring and I’m dying to get out. I have been for YEARS. Part of me is worried that I’ll never be totally happy with where I’m living. I’m sorry that you’re not happy where you are right now, either.

    My mom and stepdad live in a place like yours, where it’s a bit of a hike to get to the big stores and they’re isolated. I love to visit there because it’s so peaceful and relaxing, and I always think, “Hmmm…maybe I could live here!” But I think I’d wind up feeling the exact same way you do after a few weeks.

  93. Amah says:

    Full Circle - I was born in a small town (2 stop lights) - grew up in the “City”, moved back to the small town, raised my children, moved back to the City, And am now back in a small town, 3000 miles away from the first one, raising foster children.

    One thing I know, once my first child was born, my life changed. When my 2nd child was born it changed again. When my first child was gone - it changed. When my Mother died, it changed again. When my 2nd married and made her own family it changed again. When my husband died, it changed some more. As I got older an others’ lives changed as well, I lost contact with the people that knew me. People that were there. People that understood without me having to explain. I remarried and moved to my new husband’s home. Far away from my family and far away from his. He loves it here. I can’t go outside from April until October without needing a shower. I have a headache from 10 am until dark. Can’t go for an evening walk because of the ’skeeters, the kids have to play on concrete on the screened porch the few hours it is not to hot to be outside. I only see neighbors as they go jump in their cars a/c. No one is out side.

    When the snowbirds come - they don’t associate because of the kids. They come here to get away from their kids. They love to talk about them - but don’t want them around.

    I’m lonely - just like you. But I’m lonely for a history that is lost. For the closeness of frineds and family. I had siblings and then my family in the same house to keep me company. I didn’t have to depend on myself for company. Just like you, I have to make peace with me - so I can make peace with my surroundings.

    You have a wonderful family and the life you chose. Make peace and accept it. It won’t get any better than now. The children will grow, they will marry and leave, your house may change, and you will change. But you will never get back to where everything is new and exciting again. It’s called age.

  94. carrien says:

    Okay, I just moved this year from the middle of the 3rd largest city in Canada, which still isn’t very big, but full of museums and galleries, and GREAT restaurants and neighbors who parented and thought about interesting and important issues as well, and friends from grad school to talk to, and… you get it.

    I know live in the Suburbs of Sand Diego. My neighbors are military, mexican, or um, suburban housewives. I need to learn spanish, ’cause I bet I’d find a great friend among the non english community around here, they seem much more intersting anyway. I’ve not met one person who I would consider true deep friend material, or even someone to talk to about things beside potty training and children’s nutrition.

    I feel you.

  95. T in HD says:

    With 93 comments, I hardly know if you’ll make it down this far but I’ll add mine anyway. Thanks for that post. We moved from Munich to a small town outside of HD last year and it’s been a hard transition for me. Very hard. Everyone says “just give it time”. I’d always thought of myself as more of a country girl and thought my dream home would be in the country. Now I’m realizing it’s not. I can’t even hack living in a small town. After all these years living in Seattle and then Munich, I’ve realized I’m a city girl (providing it’s the right city, LOL!) Your comment about biding your time until you leave really hit home with me. I love our new place here, it’s bigger and brighter and much nicer than the place we had in the city but I’m just waiting to move on now. I feel so cut off, isolated, lonely. To make matters worse, I don’t have a driving license here and hardly know how we’ll come up with the money for me to get one (it will cost something around 600 Euro/760 US dollars) so I am left to what is available within walking distance…nothing. When we lived in Munich, I couldn’t have cared less about having a driving license. I had *everything* I could want within walking distance and so much more a short bus, train, subway ride away. And that’s to say nothing of the bike paths throughout virtually the entire city. So no, “time” will not improve my outlook much about living here.

    Yes, that comment was about me, not you. ;-) But wow, how well-timed for me your post was. I spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with a good friend last week about this very subject. And that’s saying something because I HATE and loathe talking on the phone. But, she’s in Munich and I? I’m HERE!

  96. Velma says:

    I, too, am a member of the Wistful Longers club. Where do I send my membership dues? I guess fun meetings where all the wistful longers got together and drank would kind of negate the whole “wistful longing” part of the club, but I’d be willing to try.

  97. Ruth says:

    We moved from a small town to a big city to renovate. It was and is a monumental disaster. The only person happy is dh. I don’t go out. I can’t drive and it is too dangerous to walk about at night alone, my son got mugged and my dd’s have to be taken everywhere. Small towns are not so bad when you view it that way. I feel the same as you for the opposite reason.

  98. Jen says:

    I empathasise with you completely. I have recently moved to a small town (3000) people, having lived in a city for all but 2 years of my life. I find it So. Damn. Hard. to find ‘like minded’ people to talk to, it drives me insane. I am ‘friends’ with people in town, but I wouldn’t be if our kids weren’t a week apart in age, and it is such a small town you can’t avoid people with kids the same age as yours.

    It drives me mad, having the same mundane conversations with the same people every time I take my son to a toddler group. And that’s if someone actually talks to you! The cliqueyness gets to me, as the town isn’t big enough to have cliques (you’d think!), but I make myself go so that my son can socialise, and to get out of the house (PPD isn’t helped by being stuck at home all day with a baby!)

    Your comments about the coupon club cracked me up - that is so like my town!
    I don’t know if you want empathy or a solution - I’d go with empathy, but I don’t think that there is a solution. It’s hard as you are homeschooling your kids, so you don’t get to regularly meet mums at the school (though sometimes it’s a blessing you don’t!) but is there anything you can do in town (apart from Coupon Club)? Mind you, if I go to one more Avon or BodyShop party, I think I will go mad! The Book Club idea is good, but from the sounds of it you’ll never have a chance to read one - sounds like you’re kept pretty busy!! It’s a question of finding ‘Me’ time I guess, but ‘Me’ time that involves other people. If you find something, let us know - sounds like we all could use it!

    Incidentally, I have a friend who I am visiting in CT in a couple weeks time - she also homeschooled her 4 kids, and you remind me so much of her! Similar quirky humour, intelligence, and outlook on life. Similar house, too! One of the reasons I love reading your blog, quite apart from your gorgeous kids and the great way you write, is that it reminds me so much of the ‘good old days’ when I was helping homeschool her kids, and the huge amounts of fun and laughter!

  99. vicki says:

    You can always join us and become another family living on the road. :) We’ve done the city thing, the small town thing, and the middle of nowhere country thing, but we’re most happy on the road, seeing all of it, but being tied to none of it. Best wishes, Vicki

  100. Theunperfectmother says:

    T in HD….

    Are you in Heidelberg??????? Thats where I am right now…… Heidelberg, Germany…… and I dont like it much. Even though they say it is one of the prettiest German cities, and the Castle didnt get bombed… (Could have fooled me! Have you been up there? Place is like, falling apart!)

    Chris, sorry to use your comments as a posting service! Please please please forgive me!

  101. Debbie says:

    I love reading your site. I have 3 little boys and you give me so much motivation to keep going through out the day when things get hard. You are also an amazing writer. I love this post because I can totally relate. This past weekend I just about had a breakdown. Ok so lets me honest I did have one. I tried to think “what would make me happy right now?” I still have not figured it out. Thanks for all the laughs and great stories.

  102. debby says:

    I think I’m just coming out of the ‘waiting for my life to start’ phase. I had children before I was an adult, so it’s not like there’s this life I’m dying to get back to — I just want one. With one child in college and one in high school, it’s starting! I live 70 miles from NYC and went there for the first time in 17 years just last month. I saw a show! I went to a museum! I rode a train! I ate in a restaurant! Otherwise, it’s 35 minutes to Target and a Starbucks just opened about 10 miles away. They are starting to pave my dirt road.

    And about the friend thing — I’m 37 and most of my friends are in their 50s. Look outside the box for friends. I’m very close to some amazing women I almost discounted as ‘too old’.

    Hang in there. Vent again when necessary.

  103. Nancy says:

    Your comments remind me of my mother. She is a college professor, but before she started working again, she stayed home with five children. She lived in rural northern VT for three years when my Dad was a principal there in the 1970’s. At the time, she had 2 preschoolers and one baby and one newborn and no car. She said it was so very hard and drove her crazy! But I agree with one of the previous posters, at least we have the internet and cable tv and ebay and amazon.com nowadays. I am now at home with three little boys living in fairly small town in Alaska. My life has changed so much from a working full time lawyer to now a stay at home mom. Of course, this is what I always wanted - a family, a little bit of land, and a nice life in a small town but sometimes the reality is not so great. It is hard work and exhausting and isolating. Most of the time I’m satisfied and happy esp. when I look at my beautiful babies, but sometimes, I want to be living my single, career sisters’ lives in the city - they go to plays and concerts and to great restaurants, etc. I used to go to these things, too! Of course, I’m still new at this and in ten years, I may feel the same way you do now.

  104. peggy says:

    friday is mary from fireflies and frogs birthday. I am hoping all her friends will stop by and tell her happy birthday.

  105. Sophie says:

    I have been thinking of your post for two days now. I didn’t post a comment when I first read it, and then I saw the count climb, climb, climb. However, I found it one of the most thought-provoking posts I’ve read in a blog. So here goes… When I was 13, my mom moved us from the ‘burbs of a small city to a rural county. It was culture shock to me, and I just could not connect to the kids in that town. Even at that young age, I already had different ideas about life — hey, they thought I was weird because I was smart! Roll the clock forward thirty years later. My family and I have moved BACK to this county because it is now a bustling suburb of a 4-million-plus populated city. We’ve got it all with 1/2 drive: museums, restaurants, ballet, symphony, etc. So, the city and this county has changed drastically. With all of this culture and diversity, we now have some of the worst crime in the nation. USAToday said that meth was making this city what Miami became because of cocaine. Sheesh. Now, I’m more worried about my mom leaving this world in a home invasion than a heart attack. Maybe the growth is just too much of a good thing.

    I’ve teased you on this post because your life seems so unbearably GREAT, but I also know how even the best situations can have a painful side. Perhaps balance is the key for you (as you mention it is for your husband): a change of scenery, a break in the routine, a different type of friend in unexpected places. I’m cheering for you, Chris.

  106. cheeriobutt says:

    Ha ha ha! Oh man! I’m sorry to laugh at what is meant to be a depressing post, but you just summed up my whole life and the conclusions I have reached! Wow. Can we meet up somewhere and scream together? Especially at the grafted to the hubby part. BLEH. Well, I did find one good thing about living in the booneys just recently, I don’t have to count and recount my kids every five minutes. No panicking around here in la la land. They’re somewhere around here. Yeah, only safe place for that way of thinking. Just sayin’…. :)

  107. mdiskin says:

    FIRST RULE of oupon club: Don’t talk about coupon club!

    I started a new, totally new, career this year (I’m 36) that pays 1/10 of what I used to make. If you feel defeated, sometimes you just need to pick one thing and do it. You’ll feel better. And if it’s your dream, you’ll think, why didn’t I do this before?

    And I started a short story club in my neighborhood (all the new moms are too tired to read much more than that). We read modern shorts (no rehashes of Faulkner or Flannery O-Connor) and drink lots of wine. This covers a multitude of dreary crock-potty nights.

    Best of luck.

  108. del4yo says:

    I felt a bit lonely here in san francisco because it’s not as culturaly challenging as Paris.

    Gee, I deeply apologize. But next time someone talks about moving in the suburbs, I’ll get postal on him!

  109. LKB says:

    I felt like I was waiting for my life to start for a long time. Years and years. I even fell into a deep depression–in hindsight, I probably should have obtained professional help, but I never did. I was just incredibly unhappy. But now my life is idyllic. I love our house, I love our neighborhood, I’m developing a friendship I enjoy, my husband is perfect, my daughter is perfect (no, she’s not a teenager).

    How did I get from there to here? Try this–even if you don’t believe in God. Even if you don’t pray. Look up to heaven and ask God to help you make the changes in your life that are necessary for you to be happy. Try it. What have you got to lose?

    I can tell you that as soon as I did that, my life started changing right away. Don’t think I was instantly happy, because it didn’t work like that, but I was happier. With each change–and some were big changes, and difficult–I was happier. And after a long time, I seemed to arrive at a plateau, where I felt I had come to a stopping point, as far as changes go, and still didn’t feel really completely happy (although I was MUCH more so than when I started), so I prayed it again. And more changes came and I’m happy. I can honestly say I’m happy. I love the way my life is now, and I’m happy with the way I am now. Sure, I want to take off a few pounds and I sometimes wish I were a better housekeeper, but those are just things to work on. Underneath everything is a bed of content. I am truly happy.

    So try it. Even if you don’t think anybody’s listening. Ask God to help you make the changes in your life that are necessary for you to be happy. And then look out for the changes.

  110. daring one says:

    Three words: Sea-at-ul. I would braid your hair and read people magazine with you so you could appreciate it more and we would ride a bicycle built for two, while our children ran after us and things would be grand… and I might get my earrings back.

  111. T in HD says:

    theunperfectmother…

    Yes, I am in Heidelberg, in a small town on the edge. Everyone says “oh, Heidelberg, how lovely!” when they heard we were moving and did not understand my reticence. Until they heard I was moving from Munich. Anyone who knows or knows of Munich then always answers “Oh”. HD is nice enough, but it is not much compared to Munich and its surrounding areas. I’ve been to the castle more times than I can count, since I grew up in Germany and we often took visiting family there. I do like the castle (love ruins) and the Altstadt but really, there’s not much more of interest around here than than. :( I was just so used to having everything I wanted or needed within walking distance and this has been a big and most unwelcome change.

    Are you military?

    Yes, Chris, I apologize, too. I don’t want to post my e-mail addy in public, so I’m not sure how to take this conversation off of your blog!

  112. Theunperfectmother says:

    T in HD

    Yes, I am military. This place is cute enough to visit. Not cute enough to live. Really. I mean, it is a pain to go anywhere! (Well, for me, since I own a SUV, and parking… ergh. Enough said! And you know that the housing area I live in is the one NOT on a bus route…. so…… yuck!)

    I am getting out of here though… sometime in the next 3-6 months…(hopefully in the 3 month category) and going to Texas. Oh, and I am getting out of the military, and I am going to be a full time wife/mom. So, after reading this, and all the other comments, I am starting to worry!

    I just know that now, with working more than full time, and trying to parent, and have a relationship, I am more stressed out than any person ever should have to be. When I am at home, I am thinking about work, and when I am at work, I am thinking about all the things I could be doing at home.

    I figured that has to be more to life than this, so I am going to try the stay at home thing for a while. If I completely despise it, I can always go back to work.

    But really, Germany is alright. I just really hate this government apartment I got stuck in. I feel like I am decaying in here, and I never wanted to invest the money in this place to make it feel more like home, when I knew I was not going to be here long enough to enjoy it. Nothing I own fits, there is no storage space in the apartment, and it overall is just depressing!

  113. dorothy says:

    Look at all these comments! Obviously, you’ve struck a chord.

    This sounds like something my mother wrote thirty years ago, when she was raising my sister and me in a town of 5,000 in Iowa.

    Keep seeking out the intellectuals. I’ll bet you can find some. Don’t give up. You are there now - find your peeps.

  114. Hsin says:

    Hi Chris, this is the first time I’m commenting. I’ve been reading you for some weeks now. I am half a world away from where you are, but yes, I can relate to the feeling of isolation, of waiting in limbo. My family and I are like modern day nomads, having moved for the third time to a new country in 6 years. It’s always been a cosmopolitan city fortunately, but the isolation is no less. Having to make new friends has gotten quite stale and in this last move, I’ve yet to make an effort to get to know the people around me. I think it was better at the start of our gypsy living when I was still working, but some years ago, I threw in the towel and had a baby and became a SAHM. I think I definitely tried harder when I first quit, but now, I can’t even be asked. The isolation no longer bothers me and I somehow don’t think that’s a good thing. I used to not want to go home (to our home country) but now I do. Somehow I feel there’s a finality in that move (which isn’t necessarily true, given my husband’s job) and that I can finally start what it is that I’ve been wanting to start (which I’m still figuring out…).

  115. Jennifer says:

    I realize I am a little behind on this discussion, but I just wanted to say, I know exactly how you feel. I grew up in a tiny town with NOTHING to do, nowhere to go. When I turned 17 and bought a car it got slightly better… but not much. I moved away when I was 18 and I have never looked back. I like to visit because it is nice to get a night’s sleep every once in a while without the sirens and the honking and the police choppers buzzing around… but I also dread it, because I know it means running into people I went to high school with in the grocery store, people stopping by because they see my car in the driveway and want to catch up. I hate making that kind of small chit chat more than anything. The people I like, I have kept in touch with. The people I do not keep in touch with, there is a reason for that.

    But, after almost 8 years living in a major city, I am getting sick of it. I am getting ready to move somewhere in between complete and utter nothingness and the very real possibility that I will be mugged walking from my car to my house. So, if you ever want someone to remind you of all the bad things about city life (fighting for parking spots! rats! noisy neighbors who have sex LOUDLY at 7am! Bible thumpers coming to your door every Sunday morning to try to convert you!), just let me know.

  116. Jessica says:

    Thank goodness for the Internet, hun? Imagine how much worse it would have been even just 20 years ago.
    I sometimes wish I had your life. Thank you for reminding me why I love living where I live.
    If you ever want to have an intelectual conversation, or even just chat about a book you have just read you are welcome to email me!
    The beauty of living when we live is that you can have friends all over the world. It helps a lot with the isolation!

  117. Izzy says:

    I could have written this post except as the “pre-moving out to the sticks” version of you. I’v always romanticized how great it would be to live in the country but when we moved to a rural suburban area, I wanted to curl up and die of boredom. As for living in town, some people like the predictability but I am far too restless and would also feel like I’m biding my time. Actually , I DO feel like that. I’m waiting for the day my huz decides he’s tired of this crappy place we live in and we can move to a real city.

  118. jody2ms says:

    How ’bout a meet up in Texas soon? We could travel to the big city and scope it out for a possible relo when the crack house is complete…..and don’t forget to bring your coupon book!

  119. Meghan says:

    I live 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, and I still know what you are talking about. I too, have often felt like I am a bad fit for the suburban neighborhood I live in. I don’t enjoy talking about decorating and lighting or peewee hockey, and many of my neighbors are perfectly nice, but bore me to tears. I am beginning to understand that the suburban version of “normal” is incredibly fucking boring, and living here is making my brain atrophy.
    I think getting kicked out of the “coupon club” (oh my GOD is that funny) should be worn as a badge of honor. Those women sound ridiculous.
    There are many days when I feel like a suburban misfit! But to pry my husband away would take more strength than I posess.
    It’s a dilemna. I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR. Can you ship friends in for a visit to get you through the next few months?

  120. badgermama says:

    Chris I ***SO*** feel for you. I need cities and different people like crazy. A little bit of comforting routine is good, but what you describe is hell.

    I seriously recommend getting a fucked up punk rock haircut and wearing black lipstick and fingernail polish. I can see you in some fun stompy boots with chains on them, walking to the library with all the kids in tow.

    Result: the boring scary people won’t talk to you anymore and will actually cross the street to get away. No one will expect you to go to an Avon party. And the other people who have an inner cosmopolitan will suddenly find you.

    Now… you don’t have to go that far. A simple, tasteful nosering, a graceful tattoo, and maybe a bright red streak will have exactly the same excellent positive effect.

    I’m just saying. You already feel isolated. There is no worse punishment if you speak up or act up to be a little odd, or exactly what you want to be.

    If all else fails you will at least find the bored and disaffected teenagers who are frustrated intellectuals and become their gang leader.

    8-P

    Suggestion #2, Come and visit anytime and I will take you to superfun stuff in San Francisco.

    Suggestion #3, declare a woolfcampy type of thing at your house and invite all the cool bloggers within like 300 miles and see if they come.

    xox

    Liz

  121. badgermama says:

    Though I’m being flip, my point is that if you “signify” a little bit of difference then other intellectual types or oddballs will be able to find you. But keeping your mouth shut, if you do that, not only will your soul die, but your compañeras will not have any clues to find you.

    Be wild, my dear! Just in some small way!