Kids, Friends and MSG

Iris bed (with a touch of monosodium glutamate)
Iris bed (with a touch of monosodium glutamate)

“You’re right. We both could have careers,” she said. I nodded. “But could we really live full time in the boonies? Where the closest healthy supermarket is in Vermont, a ferry ride away?”

“I could. I have.”

“Maybe I could… Our friends here lead great lives, right?”

“Right.”

“They have so much more to talk about than work and kids,” Susan said. She described conversations with our friends in the city and suburbs inevitably veering onto the strains, calamities and milestones of parenting. “Nannies, babysitters, nutrition, education, play dates… I mean, I do love our friends’ kids. I love seeing their personalities and their interests and their abilities changing, but I’m so tired of the perpetual kid chatter. I’m sick of everyone griping that their lifestyles have been kidnapped by childbearing and then – in the same breadth – imploring us to have children, assuring us that it’s the best decision they ever made.”

We enjoyed spending time with children. I had taught middle school and high school students for a half dozen years and genuinely missed the daily interaction with teenagers. But long before we were even married Susan and I had decided that we would not have any children. Our insatiable appetites for wandering the globe and our tendency to hyper fixate on each new personal and professional endeavor, comprised less than ideal ingredients for child rearing.

“Our friends here are different.” Susan had the spirit now. “Even the ones who have children have so much more to talk about…” Her words came fast and excited. I turned on the hot water to warm up the tub. “They’re passionate about politics, the environment, the health and viability of the community. They’re enthusiastic about improving the world around them. They’re so much less concerned about financial success, about how big their homes are, how green their lawns are, how stylish their wardrobes are. They’re cultured. They’re well educated. They’re well informed. They love animals. They’re athletic. They’re outdoorsy… Can you turn that off? It’s burning my leg.” I turned off the hot water, and Susan resumed her monologue about the merits of our North Country friends and their lifestyles. Smaller communities resulted in greater civic involvement, she opined. “They join the boards of local non-profits. Or they start their own organizations. They participate in local government…”

“Susan?”

“They’re environmentalists, writers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, artists, realtors, yoga instructors. They’re entrepreneurs and architects, camp directors and farmers…”

“Susan, I’m with you. I understand. I agree.” She stopped talking and smiled. “You don’t need to lecture me on why we admire our friends’ passion or their choices to live intentionally. Or their abilities to balance meaningful work with quality of life. I’m on board. It’s admirable. We’re on the same page.”

“It’s just, the more I think about it, the more I realize I’d love to move here.”

“And the more you talk about it, the more I worry that your perspective’s a wee bit idealistic. No? A little too saccharine? A little too much MSG?”

Susan laughed. “Maybe.”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the North Country tableau you’re describing, but I don’t want to…”

“I know.”

“You do? What?”

“You don’t want me to be disappointed if it doesn’t measure up.”

“Partly, and I… Listen, I really do like the idea of living up here, for a while, at least. But I don’t want you later to feel like you did it for me, like I talked you into it, like I misrepresented it or something. Does that make any sense?”

About virtualDavis

A writer, storyteller and unabashed flâneur, George Davis (aka virtualDavis or G.G. Davis, Jr.) is the author of Rosslyn Redux: Reawakening a home, a dream and ourselves, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks with his bride. He blogs about storytelling, poetry, doodling, marginalia, flânerie, publishing, and other creativity-inspired esoterica at virtualDavis.com; posts sometimes exhilarating, often unnerving, occasionally euphoric, and always pollyanna "midlife mashups" at 40x41.com; chronicles his sailing adventures (and misadventures) at Sailing Errant; and delves into matters of parenting, babylandia, and childfreedom at Why No Kids? George formerly taught and coached at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris, and he co-founded and launched Maison Margaux: "Paris à la parisienne" in Faubourg Saint-Germain. He currently owns and operates Adobe Oasis in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his bride. George meanders on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
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