New York City, where I used to live, is a transient place. People ask where you’re from, because the assumption is “not here.”
I find this question asked less often, here in my new home outside Philadelphia. Indeed, I have had the experience now of meeting parents of kids at Jasper’s preschool who actually went to the preschool themselves 30 years ago. That would be parents, plural – it’s not one outlier. It’s a somewhat regular thing.
I find this worldview fascinating, because it’s certainly different from the one my husband and I grew up with. Both of our fathers were academics, which means that, first, you go to graduate school somewhere that has a great program. This is probably not the town you grew up in. Then, coming out of grad school, you go to the best university that offers you a job, which is seldom the same place you went to school. You may stay at that job a long time, but still, your kids don’t view it as the ancestral home. None of my husband’s siblings stayed in College Station, TX, and none of mine stayed in Raleigh, NC or South Bend, IN. My husband and I both moved to New York because we thought it would be a fun place to live, and we moved to PA because my husband is currently part of the Philadelphia office of his company. But he’s been in at least three other offices during his tenure. In my world, place is a variable.
But for other people, it isn’t. When all your extended family is in one place, you may simply assume that is where it is best to live. And perhaps it is. Having a tight social network is a strong predictor of human happiness. You look for careers you can do in the place you are, rather than follow work opportunities elsewhere. This is not necessarily good or bad, it’s optimizing different things. You may give up something in salary, but if you can, say, rely on family for a chunk of your childcare, you may not need to earn as much.
It will be interesting to see which mindset my children adopt. In choosing a community in which to live, it certainly never entered my mind that this would have any bearing on which community my children ultimately choose to live in. Will they, like us, view holidays as a time for flights and long car trips, or trips down the street? Will place be a variable, or a constant? What is it for you?