Sometimes when people hear how much we've moved around, they ask me what my favorite place is. I would need a good ten minutes to do justice to that question and I'm still not sure I'd have an answer at the end of it. Read this blog post and you'll see why. Every place has its pros and cons, and on any given day - or during any given life period - different pros and cons can carry more weight than others.
Portland, Oregon. I spent my formative years here, from 1984ish to 1999. What I liked: Yeah, pretty much everything, EVEN THE RAIN. Beach, mountains, forests, trails, etc. What I didn't like: Nothing comes to mind, honestly, which isn't fair since I grew up there - Portland was my "normal" so it set the baseline for my expectations.
Utah (including Provo, Orem, and American Fork). My time in Utah includes my undergrad years at the BYU (1999-2001) as well as living there for other reasons (in 2003/2004 and 2009). What I liked: It is very beautiful there, I don't recall minding the climate, and Provo especially is a nice little family town. What I didn't like: Sometimes being part of a Mormon majority is hard. Seriously.
Kyoto, Japan. I was a student here in the summer of 2000 so sorry, I'm not counting it as a place I lived for the purposes of this post because it was all fun and games and sight-seeing and learning Japanese and the boring logistics were taken care of by others.
Moscow, Russia. The year of 2002. What I liked: The culture. OH, the culture. I mean stuff like world-class plays, concerts, and ballets at fabulously historic venues where the tickets cost all of five bucks. If even. I also loved the language and the metro. What I didn't like: Russians hate families and love alcohol. Bad combination.
Damascus, Syria. 2004-2005. What I liked: Syrians love families and hate alcohol. And the ruins are to die for. What I didn't like: Sometimes the effort of day-to-day living was a little much, but it also built character, so.
Tucson, Arizona. 2005-2009, minus the summers (we went to the Middle East every summer to escape the Tucson heat, ha ha ha). What I liked: The house we lived in and the (few (because we're introverts) but truly awesome) friends we had. What I didn't like: Don't get me started, though Tucson has definitely earned a little soft spot in my memory now that we don't live there anymore.
Amman, Jordan. A summer in each of 2006 and 2007. What I liked: The breezy summers and quirky sights like the Dead Sea and Wadi Mujib. What I didn't like: As far as the Middle East goes, Amman tends to be on the sterile side when it comes to local charm.
Middlebury, Vermont. The glorious summer of 2008. What I liked: That perfect New England small-town feel in a gorgeous setting. What I didn't like: It was a little far removed from any freeways, I guess?
Ithaca, New York. 2009-2010, via Cornell. What I liked: Cornell, a great neighborhood the likes of which we will probably never be lucky enough to live in again, and astounding natural beauty and recreation opportunities. What I didn't like: Not being able to stay there longer. (If you were expecting to read here something about a certain long and frigid season, think again: I WILL NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT THE WINTER.)
Cairo, Egypt. The summer of 2010. What I liked: Well. Not a whole lot, to be honest, but it was an exciting place to live if nothing else. I definitely see how someone could like Cairo, is that good enough? What I didn't like: Let's just say that if Cairo wanted to woo me back it could start by creating some public green space. Just sayin'.
Even after having written all that I still can't choose a favorite. Or even a least favorite! Oh wait, my least favorite was Cairo. Sorry.
Am I the only one who thinks there is no "best" when it comes to places to live?