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Reconciling permie life away from your roots in the city

 
Posts: 22
Location: Western Washington Zone 8a
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Does anyone else out there feel a seemingly endless pull to go back to their roots?

I left behind life in one of the most expensive/exciting urban areas in the world in pursuit of independence and a more affordable life. Ten years later I have my own 5-acre slice of paradise, almost-debt free, with steady job, and an almost-finished little cabin. I'm saving up for the "next big thing", which will probably be enhancements to the homestead, like a cabin addition for an indoor bathroom, sunroom, and bedroom, re-graveling the driveway, etc. I'm thinking of getting a construction loan to take care of everything on the list. However, a big part of "the dream" was to be debt-free...and now that I'm thinking of taking that plunge, I find myself reconsidering the possibility of getting an already-built house back where I grew up to be closer to my aging mother, inlaws, and old friends. Don't get me wrong, I love where I live. It's beautiful, quiet, surrounded by woods, no neighbors in sight, space for a food forest and the animals. I love the view out my window all the time, and on days I don't work I choose not to leave the property at all.

However, the past few years I've grown closer to my family-in-law, and my mother isn't getting any younger. I miss them. Sometimes I miss the diverse culture and huge variety of activity and innovation of my "hometown". There are tons of fun activities, great food, and my best friend lives there. A major part of why I don't live there was due to my lack of self confidence in my ability to "make it". That, and I didn't feel like I fit in back when I was growing up there (normal adolescent awkwardness probably). Now with a more established career, and a bit more confidence, I am reconsidering my life choices.

Part of me knows that staying where I am is the smart and right thing to do...I belong in the woods, it's affordable, less risk of fire and economic ruin, my job is secure (albeit pays a lot less than I could probably make elsewhere). I know I am very, very fortunate for all I have, and I really am deeply grateful....so why do I keep looking at real estate 1000 miles away, near my roots? I suspect it's a "grass is always greener" situation, but I think about it all the time, and I can't seem to let it go.

Does anyone else feel this way? Has anyone found a way to "let go"? I'd love to hear your stories of leaving behind your old life (and family) in pursuit of something different.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 644
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Hi Liz,

I'm struggling with this issue right now, but in reverse.  I've spent most of the past few months dealing with my dad's rapidly declining health.  After two long hospital stays, he's in a nursing home as he is now at the point that he needs 24 hour care most of the time.  There are days when he's able to function well enough that he could still live at home with my mom, but those are getting progressively fewer.  Dementia is a bitch.  To make matters worse, my dad's hearing is so bad that he hasn't been able to speak on the phone, so I can't even call his room if I want to talk to him.  

I moved to this city where my parents live, along with many extended family members, in order to live with my daughter while she's in school (her request) and to be close to my parents.  My sister lives a couple of hours away and my brother is 4000 miles away.  In the past few years I've reno'd their house to make it easier for them to live in it as they age.  Now, though, my daughter is less than 4 months away from graduating and she wants to move to Vancouver, which is great.  We're very close but I think I need to move to the east coast to start farming because land is so much cheaper there than the west coast.  My daughter's very supportive of what I want to do, and I'm sure we'll talk every day, but it does suck.  My parents are another issue as I've been the one to help them out over the years.  My siblings are great, just not local, and I'm really struggling with the guilt of not being there for them.  It's really hard to put my dad in a home and I'm worried that both he and my mom will feel abandoned.  I sure get the dilemma that you have as I've got the same issues about moving away.

I've got horrible allergies and SW Ontario, where I live, has a lot of air pollution, which makes it worse.  Every time I'm near the ocean, though, my allergies clear right up.  Even in Florida or the Caribbean, where the mould and pollen counts are much higher than here.  So, after living with it for 48 years, I'd really like to be able to breathe through both nostrils more than 5-10 days a year  That would be reason enough alone, but my passion is farming and the east coast make the most sense for that.  I know that it's my life to live and I haven't had much choice for the last 20 years, so it's time, but it's still really hard.

I'd appreciate hearing from others about how they deal/dealt with this too.
 
gardener
Posts: 2325
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I have rapidly aging in-[laws living next door,parents that are older still, but more healthy,and children who are still dependent.
If not for family, I would be much more self sufficient-or would I?

If not for family, I would probably live in an RV, in a barn on some land, and work construction when I needed money.
I would probably, drink or excuse the expression, whore myself to death.

For me, family is the whole point of life.
Other things are distractions, pleasant or otherwise, or a means to the ends.
I have consciously chosen this path, and my pursuit of self sufficiency is guided by this star.
That being said I get the tension between self care and familial allegiance.
What I want for and from my family and what they want for or from me are seldom in sync.
What they need from me, I struggle to provide.
What I need from them, they sometimes struggle to even comprehend.
But the struggle is worth it, for me, in a way nothing else is.
These obligations are what power me through the hardest parts of my life.

 
Timothy Markus
master pollinator
Posts: 644
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Thanks for the post, William.  I agree with a lot of what you said and family is very important to me, too.  My daughter is finishing up her course in video game design.  She is exceptionally talented and a hard worker and I think she'll be able to take her pick of jobs and locations.  Her industry typically runs on 9 month game development cycles, so a lot of the work is on contract.  I've talked to her about taking advantage of that by working in other countries.  She's on board with that, and she loves Vancouver, so she's going to start there.  I lived in Germany for a while as a student and loved it, so I think it's a great experience for her.  I'm encouraging her to do what's best for her, even if it means leaving her dad behind.  My plan is to let her figure out where she wants to end up and then move close to her.  I want to use the time between now and then to live my passion and build up equity and the best place I've identified is clear across the country, but it may be temporary.  I love kids and I think being a grandparent is the best gig going, so I'm going to move hell and earth to be near her if/when she settles down.

My relationship with my parents is much different.  They are great people and I love them very much, but they have never understood that I value different things than they do and they have made it known many times that they think I'm a disappointment to the family and an embarrassment at times.  My brother and sister are very much like my parents; great, caring people who don't get me and don't think much of what they think I've done with my life.  Again, it's a different value system.  I happen to be a fantastic father, have a degree in engineering from one of the top schools in Canada, built a business to over $400k in 4 years, can cook anything, raise my own food, design and build a house, but I don't work for a company or have a pension plan, so I'm kind of a failure.  My brother flew me out to Vancouver to sort out his home reno mess with several contractors, but he told me I was underemployed when I took a job in construction finishing homes.  From my standpoint, I got paid to learn the little construction details that I didn't know, even though I've done renos professionally.  

I've tried my best my whole life to be a good son and brother, and while I know my parents did a lot for me, I'm struggling to decide if I've done enough to move away now, when they're health is starting to become an issue.  
 
Liz Hammond
Posts: 22
Location: Western Washington Zone 8a
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Hi Timothy, Hi William,

Thanks for your stories and perspectives. I admire your dedication and service to your families. Timothy, it sounds like you are also grappling with a major choice between self-care and dedication to others. Maybe your siblings will step up if you step back? Is there any option to pursue your dream somewhat nearby, maybe as a lease? Though I also know of some land in Nova Scotia that could use some permie-TLC. :)
William, I'm curious how you cope when, as you stated your family struggles to comprehend what you need from them. Do you find ways to meet your permie-needs?

I've always lived far away from most family (only child, single parent), and one of my parents lives in a different country. I grew accustomed to a lot of alone-time and sporadic visits as the norm. All the adults in my upbringing had moved thousands of miles from home to begin their own lives, and we all have a strong sense of wanderlust. Since then, they've drifted as well. As I've grown closer to my siblings/cousins-in-law, the possibility of having a closer family unit has started to seem like a possibility. Though they are just getting to the phase in their lives where they talk of moving too. The idea of moving back, just to see them fly away would feel defeating.

Both my parents dreamed of building/having a home in the country. Twice they bought land, but it never quite panned out. In a way, I'm pursuing their dream, but I had to be far away to make it happen. I do feel strong sense of obligation (and guilt) to be there for my mom. Her health is pretty good, and she's very independent, though I know she feels lonely. I would like to be close enough to help with heavy lifting and to provide company a bit more often. I also remember that living in the same home (growing up and as an adult) resulted in consistent feelings of self-doubt and walking on eggshells. It didn't facilitate the quality of relationship we both want, and finding an affordable alternative living situation in the area seemed impossible. Nowadays my coping skills have improved, so I think it would be more feasible, though I expect to put my personality on the shelf more if we are around each other a lot. If I do move closer, it would be mean a major change in lifestyle. Then again I also see the likelihood that my dad will be in greater need of assistance, sooner. So I feel a pull that (geographically opposite) direction as well. I also wonder...rather worry about how well I can "be my best self" if I can't recharge in my comfort zone, which is my little cabin in the woods. I'm trying to find the strength to be confident and happy in places that used to give me great anxiety, but I just don't know. Say I relocate, am constantly out of my comfort zone, and turn into a grumpy shell of myself, how then can I provide the love and support that would be the main purpose of the move? Thanks for reading my existential ranting.

I would be happy to hear more peoples stories!



 
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