Living in the Middle

I have lived in the Midwest my entire life.  For all but six years, I have lived in the same city.  I moved three hours away for college, and Hubby and I moved to Long Island for two years, knowing we'd be back in the city we both called home. 

And I've never minded living where I do.  Hubby's and my families all live here, except for my sister who lives three hours away, and one of hubby's sisters who lives in Chicago.   A good number of our friends are here, and we have made wonderful new friends from our sons' school and church, people who rallied behind us when we were battling cancer with Joey and who supported us after his death.

With the ease and quickness of text messages, Facebook, e-mail and, of course, blogs, it's so easy to feel completely connected to all those friends and family who are scattered around the country.  So much so, that when I see an old friend, I feel like there's not a ton to talk about anyway because I've seen all her pictures on Facebook, read her blog, or chatted her up via e-mail or text.

Long Islanders asked us all the time: Why on earth would you move back to the Midwest??  Never mind that not a one could tell us where our state was located or had heard of anything that our state has to offer (which is actually a lot).  We would simply sing the praises of friendly neighbors on quiet streets and houses with backyards and three-car garages whose mortgages were less than what we were paying in rent for a tiny townhouse with a slab of concrete and a patch of dirt behind it.

This was our place in New York.  Don't be fooled - we only lived in the lower left-hand side.
Someone else had the garage and the entire top floor. 

But, as much as I sing the praises of home, it's nice to be able to travel.  And to see this:

Monterey, CA, 17-mile drive

And this:

Miami Beach, FL

Even this:

Central Park, NYC

It's nice to live a life that can even afford a good ole' Midwestern sunset over the lake, like this:

Okoboji, IA

Hubby, Baby E, and I recently took a trip to California.  Hubby had a conference but took a couple days off for sightseeing.  We marveled at the beauty of central California, the rolling mountains plummeting into the rocky shores where glorious white waves crashed.  The stars seemed much more dazzling at night on the road to Big Sur than we had ever seen, and we fell in love with the quaintness of Carmel.

"When can we move here?" Hubby asked with his eyes sparkling.

I looked at the baby in my arms and replied, "In about 17 years."

It's true.  For the first time in my life, I could see myself actually wanting to live somewhere else.  Like maybe here:
Someone actually gets to live here and overlook the ocean every day.

I wondered aloud to Hubby if people who live by the ocean, or near the mountains, or on a lake, or even in a vibrant, cultural metropolitan community really appreciate it every day.

But I suppose it's like anything in life.  You get used to it.  You take for granted that it's just there.  And that it's still going to be there when you wake up tomorrow. And the next day.

And the day after that.

I have to remind myself sometimes that despite the sadness and the difficult times I have endured with my family, life is pretty good.  I do have "what I always wanted," and cancer would have found Joey in New York or California or in Iowa.  Bad things have a way of seeking people out.

But so do the good. 

I'm thankful that I am able to travel with a spouse who wants to see new places with me.  But it's also comforting to know that he is just as happy at home as I am.

Living in the middle is not a bad place to be at all.

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