Are you happy with your home? Or do you dream about living somewhere else? Kate @ Foxs Lane had a lovely post the other day, about getting home to her farm and being home. "As much as we pride ourselves in being cool farmers that can straddle the country/city divide, we really are the happiest here in the forest," she said. "At home."
It's wonderful to know where you belong, where home really is.
I've spent much of my adult life dreaming of a home in the country, or perhaps on the coast, but for me, I've finally realised, I'm in exactly the right place here in suburbia. I love visiting friends on their rural blocks, I love holidays down at Mossy Point, on the South Coast, and I love trips to urban Melbourne.
But I am happy here. Admittedly, I wouldn't mind a slightly larger suburban block. And I am still working on defeating my bigger-house envy. But I have enough space to have my own chooks, and grow far more of my own vegies & fruit than I yet do.
And at the same time I'm close to my parents and father-in-law, straight down the freeway and better yet a direct school bus route from a wonderful Steiner school, near to cousins and to my kid's friends and to many of my own. And yes, close to libraries and parks and rivers and mountains, and even cafes and museums and art galleries.
Plus I get to do a couple of days a week keeping my web skills up - or developing them even - in my day job. Sometimes I fantasize about quitting that job in favour of more writing, but really I do enjoy it, at least most of the time. I like the department I work in, both on a philosophical and cultural level, and also the team I work with. It's fun to be around adults all day, and it's fun to learn new things. We'll be moving our external websites to Drupal over the next couple of years, so I'm looking forward to more learning there.
Chris and Liam went on a father-son bonding weekend camp recently, out at the yurt farm near Goulburn, and the guy running it asked Chris why he stayed living in the city. Chris told me afterwards he didn't quite know how to answer, but the conversation we had as a result really cemented things for me - and for him I think - about why we do.
For me, as well as being about conveniences and about, quite frankly, not really loving the manual labour that a larger block of land implies, it's about a sense that urban and suburban is where it is going to be at, for a large part of the world's population, for the foreseeable future.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying some lovely rural living, and certainly I don't see all our food production ever being done within city limits. But I think the sense that we hippy-dippy sustainable living types often have, that sustainable urban living is second class, that while we can have chooks in suburbs, of course we'd all rather be living out of town, is misplaced.
Cities aren't going away. What we need to do is to learn to live sustainably within them. To drive less (also a big issue for rural living of course), to produce more of our own food, to create sustainable, supportive communities and live more simply, with less stuff.
It is a learning curve, because the way we've been doing urban and suburban living for the most part has not been sustainable, up to now. That's partly why I started Sustainable Suburbia.
It's taken me a long time - I grew up in suburban Canberra, and once I'd moved away for a while, I really did not expect to end up settling back here - but I finally realise that I love it here. It's a great feeling, and in some ways it frees me up to enjoy visiting my rural friends more without instantly starting to fantasize about being them. This is home, and it's where I want to be.