This weekend, I had three interesting talks with friends about where is home and where we want to be in years to come. All four of us have visited and lived in many cities, countries, and even continents. We each have a home of the heart (in my case, Grenada) or a home from childhood. For one reason or another, none of us feel as though we will be returning to these homes when we grow old.
We do not seem to have an alternative place in our minds as to where we want to “end up”. In the course of the discussions it appears that we are not comparing one city to another, nor even one country to another. Instead we are trying to question the benefits of living in a (semi-) rural setting to an urban one. We all feel drawn to nature, yet none of us wish to loose the amenities of our (small) city life.
My friend, I., is drawn to Berlin. She feels the cultural stimuli, the liveliness, of this city crosses not only cultures, but ages. My other two friends face moves into village life, with large gardens outside their terraces, and the wealth and restrictions of strong community traditions.
I think I am leaning towards living in a city, taking my mother-in-law’s case as an example to learn from. As many of you know, my mother-in-law (end of her 60s) moved in to an apartment across the corridor from our apartment. I’ve noticed a positive change to her person over the last months. She seems more at ease and more lively than she did while living in a high-rise apartment on the outskirts of the city.
While she was living there, she did not feel comfortable about leaving the apartment after dark. There were too many deserted parking lots and too many potential strangers for her to feel safe walking there on her own. Considering that it is sometimes dark in Luebeck at three-thirty in the afternoon in the wintertime, you can imagine how this could be stifling.
Now, when she leaves her apartment she knows the owners of all the small stores, bakeries, restaurants, that line our street on both sides. She says that she is slowly making a life of weekly rituals and responsibilities that is purely of her own choosing. That sounds perfect, doesn’t it?