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It's Nelly's World

Where in the World

alec vanderboom

You could have lived anywhere. And chances are, you have lived several places. Your forebears came from yet other places which you may never have visited, and never will.

Our nomadism is inside us. It is indubitably linked to the hope that also is inside us. Our species moves and wishes to move.

I think a lot now about where I'd like to live. Not in the way I did decades ago: with the certainty that I would eventually live in every place that attached itself to my daydreams. Then, I had many lifetimes; some of them would be spent in California, in Italy, and perhaps somewhere in the Southwest. (In 1985, I put a thumbtack in the map on the dot called Taos, New Mexico, having determined that moving there would solve each and every one of my multiplicitous problems. I arranged interviews, talked to friends of friends, rented a motel room and flew there, only to be struck full force in the head the first night there with the doom of an even more certain truth: that the place I lived was not the originary point of my problems; I was. Back I went to home, and into the terrible beauties of psychotherapy.)

Even now I am questioning the wisdom of rural living, gorgeous though it is: having to drive everywhere--twelve miles to an affordable grocery, seven miles to the library, six miles to decent coffee, and (most desperate of all) very little in the way of takeout.

Of course, there is the fact that the solution to the current economic fix, one that is not going away because the system that gave rise to it is untenable, fully broken now, and that has caused actual unemployment upwards of seventeen percent (per the government's own figures), is the erasure of a hundred years. By that I mean a return to the employment structure of pre - industrial revolution times: small farming. I'll need a new house, though, or else a tiller to take care of the lawn and a chainsaw to take care of the neighboring forest. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the city recently with friends who had also retreated northward at the same time and for the same reasons I did eleven years ago, I asked R. if he missed living in the city. "Nope, done that. This town belongs to others now. But we do think about where we'll go for the next chapter. When the kids are grown, maybe another city, like Portland or Austin. Where you can walk to the coffee shop."

I am not the only one, then. At some point we'll pack our bags again. We'll feel that mixture of quivering fear and hopeful possibility: a new life! We will colonize our dreams. Then, at some other point, later on, we will start thinking again. Where will it be better? Where in the world will we go next?