Friday, November 17, 2006

"So why did you move here anyway?"

Whenever it comes up in conversation that I moved here from Portland, 90% of the time the person says "Oh, my friend Joe Blow moved to Portland. Say, why did you move from Portland anyway?" It's totally predictable. I usually come up with a brief answer about being closer to family, etc., but the real reasons are more complicated than small talk allows for, and probably more than most people want to hear anyway. So, in case anyone cares about the real reasons I moved here, I'll tell you.
__First the glib answers, then a more philosophical one.
__Lynne was really itching for a change, since she'd spent most of her life in Oregon. She'd never really experienced 'seasons' such as winter snow or summer heat and is still looking forward to winter in spite of moving here during a blizzard and almost ending up a highway statistic. Silly girl.
__It was time for a change with my job.
__I grew up in the midwest, and I missed sunshine. Yesterday got me to start composing this post in my head. I went out for lunch, and it was a gorgeous, sunny fall day. In Portland there are two seasons: rainy and cloudy. I'm looking forward to bright, invigoratingly crisp winter days with the sunlight reflecting off of the snow to ward off the winter blues.
__My mom and stepdad live in Des Moines, and I missed being able to drive down and see them on the weekend. Before I moved to MSP I lived in MKE and drove down to Chicago about once a month to visit them. Of course DSM is a bit further, but still doable.
__The more philosophical reason can be summed up by a quote from Goethe:

Und umzuschaffen das Geschaffene,
Damit sich's nicht zum Starren waffne,
Wirkt ewiges lebendiges Tun.

__The common interpretation of this quote from Eins und Alles is that recreating and reforming that which has already been created, lest it become stagnant, is an endless, noble and vital work. For the less poetically minded (although Goethe was a great scientist who had a way with words) the awesome movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? has a similar message. This movie is a blending of science, philosophy and religion that gives a new perspective to what happens inside our heads. An important message to me was that people who settled into a rut in their lives, resisted change, avoided risk and followed the path laid out for them by societal expectations were more susceptible to dementia later in life. Basically, the nerve pathways in their brains atrophied from disuse. Those who sought out new experiences, learned new things and took risks kept their minds sharp when others suffered from dementia and Alzheimer's.
__Now most people wouldn't classify me as an extreme-risk taker, living free and laughing in the face of death. But every few years my life has changed in some big way. I've lived in Germany for a year during high school and again in college. I've picked up and moved all across the country, usually knowing almost no one and sometimes not even having a job lined up. I've forsaken a cushy, stable bourgeois lifestyle. And in Portland I found myself again in a situation where I had a good job, a nice condo and a stable life, and was falling into a rut. It was time to screw all that up again! Although I didn't pull the trigger until Lynne had her new job lined up (she was just going to transfer but that fell through after I put my condo up for sale), in a few short weeks I sold my condo, quit my job, threw all of our worldly belongings into a moving truck towing a car carrier, and with Lynne following behind, embarked on a journey across the country, through the mountains in a winter blizzard, to start a new life. I think that experience probably created some new nerve pathways in the ol' noodle!
__Of course there are always regrets when I do this kind of thing. There's a lot about Portland I miss. There are people I miss. I miss my condo, the Cross Crusades, Forest Park, the bachelor life, the nice salary. But in retrospect the change always turns out to have ultimately been for the better. I hope this is no exception.