15 January 2014


Does your brain ever get hooked on something and then that one thought consumes your entire being, even if the thought will never, ever come true? I feel like I make fun of Paul a lot for the short-term things he pours his entire being into (buying a Jeep Wrangler, buying a house in the middle of nowhere and going off the grid, moving out of America), but here I am doing the exact same thing.

Paul and I like to play a game when we travel. It’s called, “Could We Realistically Live Here?” The first time Paul played the game, to my knowledge, was two years ago when we each got stuck in Dubai on our separate flights home for Christmas. While I immersed myself in the local culture, riding dingy water boats, cruising over giant sand dunes and riding a camel before eating dinner on a pillow while a belly dancer shook every part of her as she danced, Paul decided to go to the grocery store and check gas prices. He even went to a furniture store to find out how much the required pieces would cost if we ever moved to Dubai.

When we were in Bangkok in October, I found myself playing the game. I had a few days in the city before Paul joined me and, when I saw him I declared that we could absolutely live in Bangkok, if we learned to speak Thai. I had already learned to say “thank you very much,” which is a great start but is also the extent of my knowledge. Paul laughed at me when I told him my revelation, first because he, too, had been thinking Bangkok was expat livable, and, second, because, as he so eloquently stated it, “We live in Papua New Guinea. Any place is livable.”

So, now that we are back in the U.S. on an incredibly long holiday, we have the U.S. bug. It happens quite often and our minds start to wander. We have spent time in Northeast Ohio with our families, a week in New Jersey where I found a couple potential houses near the Short Hills Mall, a week in Vermont where I picked out a cute town called Woodstock where we could have a holiday home. And then there’s our first house on Nantucket and the one in Maine on the banks of the Atlantic. Right.

Among the rest of our travels, we spent a week in Columbus, Ohio, downtown in the hotel where nearly five years ago our wedding reception was held. We were two to three minutes from Paul’s favorite neighborhood, German Village, which was settled in the early 1800s and established as the old south end in 1814.

The houses are mostly brick, mostly compact and mostly literally right next to each other. The streets throughout most of the neighborhood remain brick and in the wintertime the whole area is simply magical.

We have several favorite shops we like to visit, including Mohawk Restaurant, Katzinger’s Deli, the German Village Coffee Shop and the Book Loft with the Cup O Joe next door.

Our first full day in Columbus, Paul had already found a German Village house for sale and he retold his encounter attempting to find the sale price via a QR code printed on the sign that Paul had to reach through the gate to photograph only to find that the website was under construction.

One morning after a fresh snow, we again found ourselves house hunting in German Village.

After viewing an afternoon movie, we found ourselves driving around Upper Arlington, house hunting in the expensive suburban neighborhood with giant houses and grand driveways.

Watching hours upon hours upon hours of HGTV shows about house hunting and renovating, I am fantasizing about buying a house. I have actually started documenting items on a wish list Paul and I created for the dream house that we will likely never build.

Sometime in the last couple of weeks, we started thinking about cities on the west coast and San Francisco popped up. We have no actual plans to move to San Francisco but, for some reason, I found myself on HGTV’s website, San Francisco’s official website and Google Maps scoping out neighborhoods and – get this – actual available rental listings. What the heck is wrong with me?

After more than half an hour, I had to consciously tell myself: we are not actually moving. Stop looking at these web pages. Stop saving the potential housing options. We are not moving!!

Paul went back to PNG last week and I moved my flight to give me a couple extra weeks here in the first world. He’s still talking about moving apartments but I just don’t see that happening. I have come to accept our two-room, 700-sf funny apartment and all of its quirks.

Funny enough, I am actually looking forward to going back. What?! What did she just say?

Yeah, I think I just crave normalcy and, over the last six months, PNG has become my new normal. I look forward to being with my husband who is now a world away. I look forward to having a routine that includes a daily workout and being able to cook my own food. I kind of look forward to not looking pretty nearly every day, digressing back into no-makeup days and daytime outfits appropriate for a 2 a.m. Walmart visit. I look forward to seeing my housekeeper, Susie. I also look forward to doing a little more traveling. Apparently I haven't done enough.

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