A few years ago, I was stuck.
My wife and I had been married for a year and enjoyed the people and landscape around us, but we were ready for a change.
It was time to move on and begin something new even though we didn’t know what or where. As we kept searching for potential directions, we dismissed others. Frankly, some cities, states, and regions were on our “Absolutely not” list. Some were on our “Yeah, I don’t think so…” and a few were somewhere around the “I’ve never considered, but maybe at least give it a chance if something arises” list.
Gotta be honest: South Carolina was not on our list of states we hoped to live in. When some dear friends and an interesting opportunity came up, though, we decided to give it a shot.
Greenville, SC stood out from the surrounding area. We learned from locals that the city had taken significant strides to make it a welcoming and happening place, beyond the beloved Southern hospitality and BBQ culture for which the South is so famous.
During our first couple years living in Greenville, we enjoyed the growing food and drink scene, an increasing variety of events and public spaces, and the access to bigger cities within a couple hours’ drive. The Greenville area is very different than our previous cities in Minnesota and Oregon, but—though we may never fully be at home again—it became a fitting home for our time in South Carolina.
The best part, which can’t be promised in a trip-planning article on a travel website, is the relationships you build in a place. Rich friendships developed on the streets of Greenville for us, in restaurants and bars and homes and state parks. That’s the most valuable asset of any city: the ability to become the setting that comforts and gently challenges the kind of people we’re becoming.
I wrote about travel and finding meaning in new places in my book:
“It takes decisive willingness to risk months at a time with strangers and strange places away from the consistency of life back home. I had never traveled like that before, for so long and with people I barely even knew. These variables looked more like conflict I wanted to avoid. It was my own crossing of the Rubicon: my timid, adamant introvert self shied away from the rushing waters of this new environment, but my yearning for adventure called out like a voice beckoning from the opposite riverbank.”
There are times when we brush up against the borders of our comfort and intuitively sense that we must take a leap into new territory. I hope you gather the courage you need for when it’s your turn.
I had the chance to write about some of my current city’s highlights, in partnership with Matador Network and VisitGreenvilleSC.
- What would you add to the list?