On Friday we head to Maine for the annual weekly family vacation with my family. We're heading up a day early and staying an extra couple of days, in case we need some down time that a week with my family may not provide (my brother's post from yesterday provides some indication on why we might need additional down time). As Kathy's been looking up possible things to do in the area for those extra days as well as the rest of the time we're in the general area, she's come to the conclusion that Portland's a pretty neat town. In fact, she's interested in moving there, and has already picked out the house she wants to move into (I said to her that I'd actually like to visit before making such a commitment).
We have a love/hate relationship with DC that probably is worth an entirely separate post if I could accurately put it into words. We like our house, and given inertia, it's easy to do nothing and stay here. But with the arrival of Emelia, time is no longer our ally. We're zoned for an awful school, which means that we can either try out a charter school (DC has a ton of them, and hopefully the next few years will provide some data on how good they actually are), spring for private school (o u c h !), hope that rezoning occurs (we're actually only a couple of blocks from a decent school -- it's just that we're zoned for the rotten one that's a tiny bit closer), take our chances and apply for an out-of-zone school (lottery process), keep our fingers crossed that the new school boss will do what none of her predecessors could (improve the public schools), consider homeschooling (don't laugh -- Kathy talks about it), or move. If we were to move, we could go a few blocks from here to get into a better school on Capitol Hill, move into one of the suburbs with a good school system, or leave the area altogether.
As for the latter option, moving somewhere else is something of a running joke with us that started several years before Emelia entered our lives. After the 2004 election we said we wanted to leave the country, and looked into the possibility of a number of places, particularly Canada. After our trip to Costa Rica the following year, we, along with Kathy's family (they went with us to Costa Rica), toyed with the idea of moving down there (given that the country abolished its army 50 years ago, what more could a Quaker family want)? From then on we've had talks with Kathy's family of creating a "family compound" somewhere, though these days it's usually somewhere in the U.S. Exactly where that compound would be has been the topic of many discussions. In February Kathy's folks took a two-week look around that extended from New York to North Carolina looking for rural land on which to move the family.
Even if there's no family compound, Kathy wants to live closer to her family. Of course, what will be closer to her family is something of an open question due to the variable that is Kathy's sister Suz. Suz has wanted to stay relatively North because her kids' Dad lives in Maine, but doesn't want to go too far North because she has Seasonal Affective Disorder. At the time we took a trip to New England in November 2005, that area was one of the ones in which Suz was interested (her boyfriend was attending school in that general area). But that boyfriend is now an ex, and Suz has recently found her soulmate who lives in northern New York (north of Syracuse, closer to Ottawa than anywhere anyone's ever heard of in New York) and doesn't want to move. So now she's focusing on that area (which is why Kathy sent around this property that we found last week), even though it's a couple of hours south of where the soulmate lives, eight hours from where Suz and the folks currently live, almost as far from her kids' Dad (google maps says the best route sends you through Montreal), and North of the farthest North she's ever lived. This isn't to say that Suz has made up her mind about moving out there (and these drawbacks are presumably why she's struggling with the decision).
Sometimes in considering possible move destinations, we decide that we don't want to be dependent on whether, when or where anyone else moves, and so we focus on places that interest us. Thus Portland, or Ithaca -- we do like the idea of being fairly close to some vestige of culture. Most of the time, however, our dreams take us into somewhere rural or small town, where housing is inexpensive, and we can toy with the idea of retiring out there (if we just put in a few more years, the stock market cooperates, we live much more frugally than we do now, and we win the lottery) rather than wrestle with what I as an administrative law attorney want to do when I grow up (or failing that, what I would do if I left the DC area). Then again, how good are the schools at any of these places?