I recently went out with a friend for a couple beverages and a conversation. After chatting about everything from how to combat violence in urban neighbourhoods to our mutual appreciation of small town charms, the chat veered in a direction I couldn’t have foreseen, even in a crystal ball. “If you could choose an ideal place to live, where would it be?”

This innocent question threw my sense of comfort off its axis. 

I thought about many locations that ideally could serve as my new home. Yet, there wasn’t a single location that popped into my head. I just rambled on about what would constitute a worthwhile location as my mind fluttered about possibilities. After rattling off things I wanted at my ideal location — weather, logistics, traffic, local sports culture — the google map in my head still couldn’t point out an obvious answer.  

That indecision is the result of lack of preparation. It was then that I realized that I’ve become comfortable with where I’m at. In a time where more individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet, I’m doing well enough to have the freedom of options. Choices such as where I would like to spend a vacation. I’ve had that dream of departing to somewhere warm when the chill of winter taps your spine. That ‘forget this shovelling my driveway junk, I’m going to sip this fruity cocktail and close my eyes’ kinda deal. 

I’ve put in more work researching holiday destinations than my future home. I have little idea of the current real estate landscape, such as if living in the city outweighs commuting from the suburbs and vice versa. I’d forgotten that, with the weight of adulthood on my shoulders, my next move will be more important than any I’ve made before. 

As I drove home — very slowly, because the skies opened up with a near-torrential downpour — it occured to me that I’d never considered moving my life. More than the actual grunt work of picking a location, I don’t know if I wanted to allow myself to have the option. For each individual, there are anchors that keep us grounded where we are. Family, jobs, finance, friends, and lifestyle keep us tethered in place. Are we the masters of our own fate or is this vehicle on autpilot? Sometimes we’re merely passengers, with someone else behind the steering wheel. Eventually, there comes a time — or times— when you get behind the wheel and you need to be in charge. 

Instead of being excited about driving my life forward, I felt upset that I didn’t grab the reins sooner. Regret over my passive mindset has haunted me throughout my life. From relationships to my career, I’ve felt that if I had of done just a bit more I would be more content than I am. Not to say that I don’t love my life now. Chalk the feeling up as one of those annoying parts about being human.

Growing up, I wanted to live by a lakeshore. The only catch was that they always seems so busy during the warmer months and then they turn into an ice castle in the winter. However, there is nothing more calming than hearing the waves crashing outside you window as you look into the water. …Unless it’s the ultimate achievement of creating that man cave with all the tacky sports paraphernalia an oversized manchild could dream of. But where is the best place to do this? 

Would the warm rays of California be enough to pry me from the cold northeastern grip? Depends on how much I want to pay to live and endure Southern California traffic. Joining the flock of ‘snowbirds’ sounds appealing as well. But as much as it pains me to admit, I’ve grown accustomed to winter. It’s an evil that you come to put up with. Plus, as you’ve noticed from other posts, I don’t mind spending time binge-watching a show or two… especially during the colder months. 

More than anything, it’s the connections you build that tie you to any one locationI love my community. Despite the violence and numerous alerts that open every news update, this is an amazing place to call home. Yet, there have still been plenty of times when I’ve felt like the outlier. I had to make some serious effort to build up a community around me, but it really makes you love where you live.

Toronto’s not much different. Once the people get to know you, they’re usually friendly. I should know — I’m one of those prickly looking Torontonians myself. But we love our city. We adore our teams. When a crisis arises, no one can make you feel more at ease than men and women you walk by every day. As much as a home focuses on what you do indoors, it’s a community that is the biggest difference maker. 

But back to the question of the day. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? My answer: Somewhere that allows Matt Washington to be the best version of himself — that, or has good wifi.  

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