Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Been There...Don't Think So

Thanks to Missy for bringing this to my attention. Zillow has concluded that of the 10 Best Places for Single Moms, Rochester, NY comes in first! This made me laugh out loud because the first thing I did to truly start my life as a single mom was leave Rochester, NY.

As it happens, I'm familiar with a number of these places, and prefer where I live now to any of them.

Rochester, NY. Ice storm on my birthday. In April! Need I say more? Yes, I am a California girl, and simply not equipped to handle weather below 60. And while the summer was beautiful, it was full of mosquitos. Many of the people I met were really nice, but I note that most of those I knew there have since left. Hmmm....

Bakersfield, CA. Mention this place to my mother, my father, or my sister and they will most likely groan with dread. I think I'm the only member of the family with any fond memories of Bakersfield. I remember we had an awesome backyard, and my 5th birthday there rocked! It was also my first encounter with "the media," since they filmed a commercial in our pool! It was a great pool. But the rest of my family insists that it was a horrible place to live. I'll take their word for it.

Fresno, CA. Granted, I only know Fresno as a place you pass through on your way to somewhere else. But doesn't that say it all, really?

Pittsburgh, PA. The place I was so anxious to leave, I was actually the one to get us jobs to move to Rochester, NY! I know my misery in Pittsburgh had a lot more to do with my marriage than our geographic location, but one of the things I remember was feeling like I didn't fit in because I was a mom. It's a college town, and it just made me feel old.

Now, before you get all ready to write mean comments about how dare I say that about the place you love to call home, let me get to my real point.

The best place for you to live as a single mom is the place where you feel you can most thrive.

For me, that was ultra-expensive, "un-family friendly" Los Angeles.

First and foremost, my parents are here. Having them close means the world to me and my girls. And my sister is only two hours away. Having our whole family close is everything. Having lived far away from them, I know that distance does matter. A phone call or email is not the same. You just can't fill a room with laughter and love that way. It's worth the cost of gas, housing, all of it.

It's home to me. While in my childhood, we lived in Santa Cruz, Bakersfield, Cupertino, and I was born in Huntington Beach, if people ask where I'm from, I say, Los Angeles. We moved here when I was in 6th grade. It's where I learned to drive. It's where I had my first job. It's where most of my memories are. Coming back meant being able to find that part of me that was lost during my marriage; that part that believed that anything was possible, that part that defined me. I had to re-define myself, of course, but now that I have, I feel complete by being home.

Living here makes everything that's great about our lives possible. From the opportunities that Sylvia and Riley have of getting to meet and learn from Nickelodeon writers and Cartoon Network animators, to hanging out with my parents in Griffith Park, to seeing musicals at the Pantages and the Ahmanson.

In Los Angeles, we went from surviving as a single parent family, to living to thriving, and I'm not sure that could've happened for us anywhere else. It has its downfalls, just like anywhere, but given what's important to us, given what we love, it's the best place for us.

I suspect some readers would hate to live here, and that's totally fine...and again, my whole point here. No survey can answer this because no analysis could allow for all of the variables!

Like not having any desire to drive in ice and snow 6 months out of the year.


Vinomom said...

Reading this makes me wonder how I would feel if I were to move back home to Seattle. I consider Maryland home, and while it would certainly be easier for me to have the majority of my family around, I think it would have been too easy as a single parent and I would not have become so self reliant.

There are certainly times I feel like I'm missing out being so far away, but Maryland is home now, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon, if ever.

Your post did make me a bit nostalgic though.

Missy June said...

I am cracking up! Yes, I totally agree, it just depends on what works for you to make a place the best location for YOU. I would completely LOVE to relocate close to my family...maybe someday.

Pippi said...

Lol. You have to be where your heart is whenever possible.

BigLittleWolf said...

I guess it all comes down to individual situations - where we feel comfortable, where we can cultivate a supportive network (or have one already), and so on.

I'm with you on the no snow! As a single/solo parent, anything that smacks of more inconvenience (read that as things I have to do on my own) is generally a no go! (But I must admit - I really like Pittsburgh!)

Penelope said...

Fabulous post. It really is what works for YOU. For me, it was a smaller town, with my mom and plenty of friends to help with Aidan while I worked full time and finished school. For me, it will always be by a beach as well!

The Rochester part made me laugh. :)

Joy said...

Great post! I came across your blog randomly and now I'm hooked! I am also a single mom in La La Land, where I was born and raised and continue to stay! Like you, my family is here and that's why I am too. I truly can't imagine living anywhere else.

Cat said...

Rochester sounds like Colorado was for me. I just don't do cold! We're in Texas now, probably to stay.