For those playing along at home, you know we moved in January to be closer to my grandparents (see how well that worked out?) and so that I could pursue a job opportunity that provided far more professional and financial advantages than the job I was working in Oregon. Our first four months back on the East Coast were spent living in the passive-aggressive minefield of my parents’ house, in the small town I spent 16 of my 26 years loathing and wanting to leave (plus a lot of summers). To say that there is nothing around my parents house might be an understatement. I have heard it said that people in large cities, like New York, have a smaller overall environmental impact than people living in the country/suburbia where they have to drive all the time and public transportation is limited- if it even exists. I feel like my parents’ town exemplifies that. Despite being a developed suburb of Boston (even though it’s not in Massachusetts), their house is in walking distance of exactly 0 things and at least ten minutes from everything else. It’s also a cultural wasteland.
In both Oregon and Korea I could step out of my apartment, pick a direction, and I was a ten minute walk from any number of delicious food places and practical shops. I could walk to and from the grocery store, could treat myself to any number of delicious meals (I had easy access to bibimbap and tonkatsu in both places). A meet-up with a large group of friends could be orchestrated in a few brief phone calls, a trip to Portland or Seattle (or Seoul or Busan) a relaxing train ride away. While the hustle and bustle of a city is not a preferred environment for either of our introverted selves, Manbeast and I both loved and appreciated what Eugene and Gwangju had to offer. Of course, we all know that I was not cut out for teaching, which meant leaving Korea, and as soon as Manbeast finished graduate school we had exhausted the economic resources Eugene had for us. We needed to leave if we wanted to continue growing.
I love my job. My job is wonderful, and fulfilling, and it is opening doors for me that will be extremely useful as I push towards a professional degree and seek to move up in my field. It is the most amazing gateway I could have asked for, and living in the same city as the institution is supremely helpful for my stress level. Unfortunately, it exemplifies all the things we dislike about cities. Transportation is not as reliable and widespread as it was in Oregon and Korea, meaning I have to drive to work everyday when previously I would take the bus. We can only afford one car, which means there can be some stressful transportation finagling between the two of us. We do live a reasonable walk from a plaza with some necessary shops, like a grocery store, but nothing is close enough that we can just throw on shoes and run to grab a missing ingredient. The few restaurants in walking distance are national chains. Sadly, it isn’t the safest or most walkable city either. It is a frustrating and exhausting place to live. It is everything we’ve ever said we hate about urban living.
It’s frustrating to feel so trapped, and a strange juxtaposition between a job I adore and a place I can’t wait to move out of. I miss the community and culture on the West Coast, I miss the unique local places that are lacking in our current area. In some ways, it taints the things I love about this job. I know that I’m not stuck here forever- hopefully I will begin a graduate program soon and we can work towards finding a location AND job that leave us feeling satisfied. Until then, I’m just going to lament how much I left behind.