This past weekend my cousin who lives in New York City came into town for a visit. She was in awe of the natural beauty, landscape and healthy, progressive lifestyle so prevalent in Boulder.
After a morning hike overlooking the continental divide Saturday morning, we walked downtown from my apartment (also my 5 minute commute to work), had lunch on a rooftop deck overlooking the mountains, walked around downtown in the sunshine, stopped by Whole Foods to pick up her favorite tea and then walked back to my apartment to get ready for an evening out.
On our way back she looked at me and said, “I just can’t believe this is the life you live. Your lifestyle is so amazing.” I smiled and nodded in agreement. Then I began to ponder what I’ve written about before but couldn’t quite see until now: the power a place has over you.
My cousin has lived in NYC for five years and is ready to leave. Her commute from Brooklyn to the art gallery she works at in the Upper East Side, involves three trains and an hour each way. The hustle, crowds, expenses and intensity has worn her down. She experienced anxiety for the first time while living in NYC and now feels it almost everyday, to the point of sickness. I’m not knocking the city – I love it there, I just would never live there. As for my cousin, she’s moving in two months, back to her hometown to regroup.
When I thought about the way I live here in Boulder I realized that my whole life, I have picked places all analogous to my needs and desires. Call it risky? I call it living.
I grew up in a small town in Iowa. The community was enriching. I’ve known my friends since birth, because our parents are best friends and it was a great place to be raised. For college, I decided on my own to move to Burlington, Vermont: A healthy town in the Green mountains of Vermont, overlooking Lake Champlain with delicious farmers markets, artists, musicians and five colleges in the area. Smart place. Next, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy just big enough to explore Tuscany, but small enough that in six months I recognized friends walking down the street and felt the ineffable happiness of la dolce vita. Next, I moved to Boulder.
I explained to my cousin that I moved to Boulder for Boulder. I didn’t have friends, a job or a home to call my own. The place came first and I love it. I have a lifestyle list that I know is important for my livelihood. There are other towns and cities I can think of that would match what works for me, but the important piece here, is knowing it. I also purposefully chose my apartment to be close to downtown, the mountains and where I work. I didn’t want to settle, because I knew what was important to me.
I’ve visited NYC for years, some of my best friends live there but I know I would never live there. And that’s okay. Knowing what you want and need is important. It’s not that Boulder is superior to any other city, it just works for me, I trust it, for reasons I know are innate and important for me.
I believe that picking a place that vibes with you should be one of your top priorities. It’s about designing your lifestyle. For me, the rest fell into place e.g. job, friends, a home, a schedule, my community and my happiness.
My cousin then realized how I have purposefully and thoughtfully picked where I have lived over the years and dutifully replied, “The next place I live, I’m going to do that.”
What about you?