Parenting Without a Permit, Why We Chose to Leave the Big City


Parenting without a Permit, why we chose to leave the big city

Since relocating from Los Angeles, there have been a number of instances when the husband and I can’t help but play a game of ‘what would this be like back in California?’ And usually the answer goes something like ‘Well, we would have spent at least an hour in traffic, payed about $15 for parking, $6 for bottled water, stood in line for two hours, given strict guidelines on rules and proper procedures, closely monitored by guides and shuffled along to the exit as quickly as possible.’

California Dreamin’

Now before I start getting shade from all my sun-drunk Cali friends on why the Golden State is the ONLY place to live, let me admit a few things: There will always be a part of me that misses living in our run-down apartment that was a mere ten blocks from watching the sunset over the ocean. That little place was also within a five minute walk to the sushi bar where the chefs knew us by name and let us get silly watching basketball while we abused the .99 cent sake special. For years, I took for granted that the weather would never be a factor in making outdoor plans. There will always be a slight pang for a former life when I see the LA skyline in movies or old friends pop up on TV whose improv shows we begrudgingly attended for years. I miss relative proximity to a pineapple dole whip at the happiest place on Earth. I miss the feeling in the air that everybody was chasing some kind of beautiful impossible dream. But mostly I really just miss the option to have vegan thai food delivered to my front porch at 11pm. Now those were the days…

Reality is a cold hard meanie…

But like all kids, even (ahem) those in their thirties, there came a time to face reality. And that reality came in the shape of a little pink plus sign for us. Elated as we were to become parents, we knew that the proverbial party was over. There would be no more late night art installations on the beach, no more amateur ping pong tournaments until 2am on a Tuesday. But perhaps most importantly, we simply couldn’t bring a baby home to our beloved little apartment with black mold in the bathroom, no parking, no laundry, and the friendly neighborhood homeless guy who occasionally found it appropriate to poop on the sidewalk outside our gate.

For the briefest of moments, we considered staying in California based on a idealized concept of the ‘hippyish’ childhood it would allow. My current self, mother of two wild boys ages 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 respectively, can’t resist a bit of maniacal laughter at the thought of my newly pregnant self dreaming of baby kundalini classes and sandcastles. Clearly, pregnant me had no concept of the horrors involved trying to get sand out of baby folds or trying to sunscreen a toddler. And let’s be honest, the Pacific–as magnificent as she is–isn’t Florida. California beaches are pretty darn chilly most of the time, and the water is well…frigid. Call me a weenie, but beaches that require sweaters just don’t feel worth the effort anymore.

After more than a few tears mostly due pregnancy hormones, the fiancé and I looked at one another and realized it was time to pack up and leave LaLa behind. The beautifully grimy city where he spent years pounding the pavement as a singer/songwriter, and where I went on countless auditions mostly hearing nothing and occasionally hearing ‘booked’ was our adopted home for a precious chapter in our lives. It was the city where we met, fell in love, had good times, had hard times, had lots of fish tacos, and it was time to leave. And in case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to move across country seven months pregnant, let me save you the trouble. It’s every bit the bucket of fun you might imagine–just don’t ask what was in the bucket…

leaving the big cityLivin’ Free in Tennessee

After a few stops along the way, we’ve landed in the Scenic City! And imagine my surprise to discover the that ‘hippyish natural’ childhood I envisioned for my kids and mourned leaving behind in sunny California, is actually a REALITY here. We live in a home where the back yard looks like the entrance to Narnia. My boys chase fireflies in their underwear with the little boys across the street. They slurp homemade popsicles on the front porch during thunder storms. Just a week ago, we were tubing down a river with the majestic Smokies as our backdrop. We didn’t pay for parking or life jacket rentals, we didn’t have to stay in clearly designated lines, we didn’t have to sign paperwork, and we saw a snake, a real one!

In that same we week, we took the kids on an actual train ride that was beautiful and mercifully low on crowds and bountiful in history and air conditioning. I sometimes chuckle at my impatience when caught in a 15 minute slowing of traffic recalling that soul crushing traffic was once an unavoidable way of life. We frequent the amenities of this city: Coolidge park, the Tennessee Aquarium, the Children’s Discovery Museum, and the farmer’s market, all with relative ease and low or no cost at all. My boys already know the joys of skipping rocks, fishing, hunting for crawdads, and the sound of crickets.

It is here that we have found our happy. It is simple, it is true, and it is sometimes wild. And these days when there is poop on my sidewalk, the perpetrator can usually be found lurking behind the bushes giving me a big gappy one year old grin. He’s lucky he’s mine.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

-Living in a livable city...-

Now can we just get a Trader Joe’s already?

What do you love about raising your kids in Tennessee?


  1. Wow the Beauty of unexpected things waiting for us , and surrendering to the unknown blessings we never could have imagined !Thank you for writing this! This was and Is Inspiring! God bless your family ! You are awesomely brave for moving and trusting. May the rewards keep coming in this beautiful new chapter ! #yourock

Comments are closed.