This is SO NOT the Place…

Or is it? Wow, did Park City show nicely. Sorry, I’ve got a little Real Estate on my mind (I’ll come back to that…).

I should back up and give a little (of my) Utah history here. In 1847, when the Mormon gaggle made it from Nauvoo, IL, to the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young is quoted as having said, “This is the Place.” He was badly taken with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (brutal) and uttered this assessment from the bed of a wagon (even more brutal), but, really, what’s not to love? A beautiful lake (although I bet it was quite a surprise when they learned it was saltier than the ocean…) surrounded by mountains. It really is a gorgeous setting.

The problem is the people – as kind as they tend to be (and we’re related to many of them), there are simply too many (and they keep multiplying!) and they are putting out lots of pollution. When I was teaching at the U, I observed to a native Ute that the smog was getting pretty nasty. My observation was corrected out of hand, “That’s not smog, that’s the inversion layer.” Um, no, actually the nasty brownish grey haze hanging over the city IS smog and it’s here DUE TO the inversion layer. I may have not performed brilliantly in flight school meteorology, but I know smog when I see it.  It looks a little something like this:

Smog over SLC
Photo by Steve Griffin of the Salt Lake Tribune

One thing that stands out about Utah is that there are some things that have been very well marketed to the general public that just simply are a certain way and you can’t seem to change anyone’s perspective on the matter. They appear to have been Jedi Mind Tricked into not seeing the smog for what it is. How did this happen? I know not. Again, I suspect brilliant marketing. Back in the day, my fellow Lieutenant at the NROTC Unit and I were commiserating on our frustration with that particular Utahism and he jokingly offered, “This is So Not the Place,” which became one of our favorite encapsulating comments. The funny thing is he never left Utah and we’re considering returning…

Which brings me to the macro perspective on this whole evolution…

In addition to it just being a good time to be able to take advantage of this window of opportunity (further discussed here and here), we are trying out a few places across the country to see where we might end up next. Most people stay where they were raised for any number of reasons and/or will move to a location for a job. Flight and I are uniquely blessed (?) in that we are no longer tied to any particular location for our monetary compensation (Flight can commute to work from anywhere (even Marquette, MI!) and I can hang a shingle in most places), which means the biggest obstacle we face in choosing to live just about anywhere is paralysis by choice.   We’ve become so accustomed to having Uncle Sam dictate our location and carving out our best lives there, it’s something entirely new to have no one corralling our thoughts on where to raise our family.

I realize that in the grand scheme of problems, this one hardly merits mention, but it is one with which we are currently wrestling…

We had a list of about a handful of places we were seriously considering before launching on this deployment when Flight ran into an old squadron mate at an airport (this happens pretty frequently for pilots). Our friend told Flight that he and his family had been living in Paris for the last year and they liked it so much they may stay for another. !!! Holy cow, really? Paris?! Their kids were in French schools, loving it, and they were all thriving. Hmm… The potential footprint for our next sticks and bricks address just grew by a few countries.

We have two schools of thought really: 1) live within a couple hour drive from Boston, where Flight is currently based and has great seniority (= he gets his schedule of choice) and 2) hang the commute and live where we’d want to vacation. The first of these means we’d see Flight more (we do like him) and the second means we would see him less (but we’d be living on vacation, so would we really miss him?).  Ideally we’d find a place that’s relatively near Boston and is where we’d like to vacation (= a place fostering our thriving). We just haven’t spent enough time in that area yet to see if Shangri La exists, but Flight and I are both feeling the pull of the West Coast. Or at least West of the Rockies. Or just not in Davidsonville. Sigh…

Some of the best advice I’ve heard about figuring out where to live (Thanks, Colonel!) is to first decide what you want your life to look like and then go find a place that makes it possible. It’s the what that’s the hard part to sort out, and, once you define that nebulous concept (so I’m told), the where will take care of itself. This deployment evolution is helping me remember what feeds my soul and what does not. For example, having easy access to breathtaking hikes is important to me, as is the opportunity to be near water, type unspecified but preferably not brackish inlets pretending to be rivers. Where we were in Maryland, it required a major time commitment to get out into nature and, invariably, half of Del-Mar-Va was trying to enjoy the same spot with you, the collective impact of which meant there were few such excursions. Bummer.

Speaking of Maryland, we got word that our potential buyer has accepted our counter-offer to pay a higher price and have us cover some of the closing costs – and will be sending the contract our way over the holiday weekend for our signatures. Whoa, it’s really happening! Hoo boy. Need to rejigger our upcoming plans…

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