Sometime in the early 90s when I was in my early 20s and living with my parents still I tried to figure out my future. Nothing's changed twenty years later. I'm STILL trying to figure out my future:) But back then I contemplated moving away from southern Ohio and striking out completely on my own. I never did and I'd be lying if I didn't sometimes experience a twinge of regret for not. I think the pull of family and, at the time, The Amish Cook herself, was too strong. Those are people I wanted to be close to. And, I reasoned, I got to travel so much for my job that I could live here in Ohio and still have my restless exploration urges quenched. Still, I seriously contemplating moving. I went so far as to request "welcome new resident packets" from the cities of Portland, Maine and Richmond, Virginia. If was going to move to a new city and start from scratch those were the two at the top of my list.
Portland, Maine: Really, the whole state of Maine is appealing to me. I think I figured Portland would be my pick because it has all the amenities of a big city and it's close to an even bigger city (Boston). Maine has rugged mountains,but also soft sandy beaches that are pleasantly warm during the summer (Old Orchard Beach). I'm a big fan of Bangor, Maine, and some of the isolated fishing villages along the coast (Machias and Lubec), but those seemed a bit isolated, although I do have a hermit streak. It was also close (relatively) to Canada and French Quebec, which I love. I envisioned weekend trips to Quebec City. In the end, Portland just seemed to have everything I could have wanted as a 22-year-old. What they didn't have were any Amish (at the time), so ultimately that option fizzled.
Richmond, Virginia: Has a lot of what made Portland so appealing, just maybe a bit warmer. There's the southern flair of the food, the Civil War history, a very pleasant climate, close to DC (not sure if that is a good thing or bad!) and within easy reach of the beach. I love the ocean and that is one thing Ohio lacks.
Oxnard, California: My brother lived in Los Angeles for a time in the early and mid-90s and I'd fly out there once or twice a year to visit. We had such fun on those visits. Some days, though, he wouldn't be able to take off work, so I would just explore the area on my own. Los Angeles on the traffic alone would keep me from considering it, but I would always find myself motoring up the Pacific Coast Highway through Santa Monica and Malibu and ending up in Oxnard. I never heard much about Oxnard and maybe there's a reason, but it just always seemed like such a pleasant place.
Wichita, Kansas: Okay, I know this sounds insane since the first three choices all had oceans with easy reach....but there is something about Kansas...a pull that this state exerts on me that keeps me coming back. I love Dodge City, Hays, Colby and Salina, some of those smaller prairie cities, but I guess I worried I'd be too lonely and isolated...there is a "big city" streak to balance out my hermit tendencies and Wichita is this surprisingly metropolitan city that rises out of the prairie like a glittering Oasis. People are genuinely friendly out here and concerned about one another's well-being. It's like a giant family and business is honest, done on a handshake.
Venice, Florida: I realize this isn't generally a place for the young, it's for the shuffleboard set. But my grandparents lived here for a time and part of me thought if I like warm weather and beaches so much why not really do it and just move to Florida! Bonus: the Amish settlement in Pinecraft is just 30 minutes away!