Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Middle

     I am a middle child. I am also a middle-class American living in the Upper Midwest, which is in the middle of the country. And I am still middle-aged.

     I recently became aware of another way in which I stand in the middle of things. 

     A Canadian friend stayed with us a few weeks ago as she looked for a place to rent for her family. She and her husband love the city and she found a reasonable two-flat in a Chicago neighborhood. On the day we met with the realtor to finalize the arrangements, I was thinking how much fun it would be to live so close to the lakefront, the museums, the profusion of restaurants and the cultural diversity that the city possesses. There is an excitement and energy to it that draws one in. But as we drove back to our house in the suburbs, I felt something inside me loosen and slow down. Turning into our driveway, I realized how much I need space: space to breathe, to think, and to live. In the same way that too much clutter in my house makes me feel unsettled or irritable, living cheek-by-jowl with my neighbors and being hemmed by buildings and concrete would eventually have the same effect.

     On the other hand, too much space would probably make me feel isolated and lonely after awhile. As much as I love nature and relish the idea of living in the country surrounded by trees and hills, or fields and open sky, I do like the easy access to the art, architecture and culture of city life. So I live between the two. It wasn’t really a choice; I just landed here over twenty years ago when we moved east for my husband’s job.

     I am a bloom-where-you’re-planted kind of girl; I know I could make the best of wherever I lived and find things to delight in that no other place offered, but there is something about living in the middle that suits me.

     What is it about the place where you've been planted that makes your roots feel watered?


  1. For decades, my husband and I lived in a big city, traveled miles to work and back; traveled miles to get to art venues, shopping centers, only to discover later in life, when we had a chance to really choose, that we like being isolated, in a small place by the ocean, where the only sounds are not human made at all. Deep down, we know what makes us feel grounded.

  2. We live quite happily in a small town. However, when we feel the need, we are less than an hour from city life and all that it offers. Contentment!

  3. Fun question to answer.
    I have the same middle-ness...have always lived in the suburbs...easy access to art, etc. but without the crowding of canyon walls. Having two homes--one in Iowa, one in Florida adds adventure to our adventure that will end when we are too old to make the drives north and south. Still, when we bought our adventure home, it was in the suburbs. NOT in some gated golf community for old people. We wanted to live in the middle of real Florida people to know what middle-of-the-road Floridians are really like. It's peaceful and pleasant. Tourist beaches are five minutes away...we can always feel like tourists sitting next to tourists from other countries and cultures.