I Will Not Settle Down Until I Find A City With These Exact Qualities

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You know those [annoyingly tired] cliches like: You can’t go home again. Wherever you go, there you are. Home is where the heart is. And that kid’s book Are You My Mother? The one with the baby bird asking all sorts of animals and things if he belongs to them, who keeps searching desperately for his mom, then finally wails at a power shovel: You are not my mother! I want my mother!

Well, recently, I realized that I’ve moved around every year since I was 17. Whenever my apartment lease came up, I never renewed. It was a chance to explore a new neighborhood or city (and get out of the rent increase). Nothing seemed quite right. And when LA got too small, I moved across the country away from my family. Then moved even further away to Asia, and traveled around solo. Each place offered a fresh start, different ways of doing things, and left me questioning: Where do I feel the most at home? What am I searching for? I was always asking—Are you my home?

Years and thousands of dollars later, I still don’t know. There’s no perfect place. All I want is a place that feels like home. And…

the sunshine and overall consistent warm weather, clean beaches, and ocean views of SoCal

the laid-back, crunchy granola wear-your-stained-clothes-in-public vibe of NorCal

the convenience of New York City, where I can get anything delivered to me within, like, 45 minutes and never leave my apartment if it came down to it

the compactness and walkability of SF, and the freedom to never own a car again (or at least access to Uber when needed) with basically no commute to work

accessibility and affordability to healthy food and exercise trends like pilates, yoga, reiki, juices, chia, and kale

a thriving and inclusive arts scene without the pretentiousness of, say, Silverlake or the eccentricity and beard oil of, I don’t know, Williamsburg

independent cafes and book shops and markets and restaurants and theaters and museums and dance studios and live music and parks

high quality and progressive medical professionals who take my crappy insurance

the charming old yet affordable houses of Georgia with wood floors, fireplaces, porches for reading, backyards for my soon-to-be small rescue dog with plenty of windows to let in the sun from the quiet tree-lined streets

an overall liberal and social-justice centered population but not so much that I feel guilty when I take too long to decide where to throw out my non-reusable straw

neighbors who are chill AF, well-rounded, eclectic, and just overall good people who throw dope dinner parties with the perfect background music

close enough to the mountains for short hikes or weekend camping trips to see all the stars at night, but far enough away I don’t feel bad about not owning a tent

All of the above, please, with a little of the cultural richness of Bali, the scrumptious ceviche and wines of Chile, the high tech advancements of Japan, the sense of community and human compassion of Cambodia, the clean, super cheap and easy to use public metro of Korea, the sleek speakeasies of Singapore, the cultural diversity of Hong Kong the dirt-cheap prices of everything in Vietnam, the ease of WeChat wallet in China…

Of all of the cities and states and countries I’ve traveled and lived, I want to whimper: You are not my home. I want my home! TC mark

Christina Berke: Educator. Writer. Aspiring Dog Walker.

Keep up with Christina on christinaberke.com

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