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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Find Myself a City to Live in

Think about where you live. Why do you live there? Was it your choice, or is it just happenstance? When we're kids we have little to no say in the matter. I was born in Michigan, then moved around to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and then back to Michigan, where I spent my puberty years. I moved to New Jersey in tenth grade and except for four years of college (in New York) I lived my entire adult life there, until I moved to Las Vegas in 2014.

And now I'm thinking of moving on. I moved to Vegas for two basic reasons--I had always been fascinated with the place and they had teacher openings. But my teaching career seems to be over (I won't go into it, other than to say I got screwed over by my administration) so there's nothing much to hold me here anymore. Today it is like 117 degrees out, and that's not fun.

I wrote about my impressions of the city about two years ago here, and my opinion hasn't changed much. The weather is great, from about October to May, and the surrounding mountains are beautiful. But the city itself is a grind, with horrible traffic, crime, and a sense of despair.

So, if I do go, where to? It's weird having the opportunity to just move anywhere. What are my criteria? I don't mind moving to a place where I don't know anyone. I moved here with one friend, my ex-girlfriend, and she's still my only friend here (I don't make friends easily). I could move near my family--my dad is in Michigan, my mom is in Pennsylvania, but I don't think I want to deal with cold winters anymore. Why should I if I don't have to?

There are scads of "Best Cities" on the Net, from "Best Cities to Be Young and Broke" to "Best Cities to Retire to." No "Best Cities if You're Old and Broke." I'd prefer a smaller town, and I was drawn to Traverse City, Michigan, but they get 80 inches of snow a year. Nix. Same for a multitude of attractive places in Vermont. Too fucking cold. Even Fargo, North Dakota was on a list for retirees. What retiree wants to have to get a battery jump every morning?

So, no harsh winters. The second criterion is that is has to be a blue state. That lets out otherwise decent, blue dot places like Austin, Texas, Athens, Georgia, or Berea, Kentucky, or various cities in the Carolinas. I do not want to be surrounded by slack-jawed yokels in Make America Great Again hats. Nevada has been blue for a few elections now, and Vegas is firmly Democratic, so I could think about the northern part of the state, such as Reno or Lake Tahoe.

But I think the center of the Venn diagram for moderate weather and liberal politics is the Pacific Coast--California, Oregon, or Washington (I also like the Pacific Time Zone because late night sports events are over well before bedtime). Southern California does have great weather, but I can't imagine living in the environs of Los Angeles, with their horrible traffic. San Diego is a possibility, but a lot of Republicans around. San Francisco is too expensive. If I moved to California, it probably would be to a town called Arcata, well north of Frisco, where the government is run by the Green Party.

Arcata would be hard to get to, though, with no transportation hub nearby. I don't want to be a hermit. So what about Washington or Oregon? Here is where I think I will land. Portland is said to be a great city (although a recent incident showcased they do have a racist sector), while there are several coastal cities and two college towns, Eugene and Corvallis, that are highly rated. They also have one of the best cities for hippies, Ashland.

I'm further drawn to Washington. That state hasn't gone Republican in a presidential election since Ronald Reagan's landslide in 1984. They haven't had a Republican governor since 1985. They currently have two Democratic senators (both women) and haven't had a Republican senator since 2001. The Eastern part of the state is largely Republican (three out of nine congressmen are GOP) but the West Coast is solidly liberal.

Throw in the fact that my ex-girlfriend, who is still one of my best friends, inherited a house from her grandfather in Lacey, Washington. She wants to get the hell out of Vegas, too, and she's lived here nearly fifty years. Lacey is right next to the capital, Olympia, which I think is my place to go. It's very liberal-friendly, the weather is moderate (if it does snow, it hardly ever affects traffic) with the only downside being rain. But I like rain--it's one of the things I miss about living in the desert. It gets less rain than Miami or New Orleans, anyway.

So, by this time next year I may be there, or someplace else. It's nice to have the freedom of movement, which not all countries have.

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