My husband and I are about to become empty nesters. Our youngest is chomping at the bit for her senior year to end so she can move on with her life and begin studying what she wants to learn instead of what the school tells her she must know. Our lives are about to change or shift. During the preparation for this, we have discussed the need to remain where we are. Our son has relocated to Atlanta and now our daughter will be in Nashville. Both are nine or more hours away, though only 3 hours from each other. Being originally from Pennsylvania, and having lived in our current home for over 25 years, I prefer to remain where we are. (I’m one of those “all my life” kinda people. My parents moved into the house I grew up in 3 years before I was born, and we sold it after they both passed 6 years ago.)
This got me thinking about change and choice. My husband and I are discussing if and where we will go, making plans, and weighing the different options together. In days past, decisions were made, and women went. Not saying the wise men did not consult their wives, but it wasn’t required or expected. This led to thinking of our dear Jane. As we see in Sense and Sensibility, she understood what it was to suddenly be uprooted. The Dashwood ladies were at the mercy of family if they wanted to remain in the house they knew as home. Of course, if they had it would not have been like the home they knew. They had the choice to leave, but their prospects were limited.
Jane Austen was born and raised in Steventon, but her father rather suddenly decided to retire and relocate to Bath when she was approximately 25 years old. Five years later, following her father’s death, the Austen ladies entered a time of uncertainty. In the next four years, they moved repeatedly between rented quarters and spending time with family. Finally, in her early thirties, Jane, Cassandra, and their mother took up residence in Chawton at the beneficence of her brother, Edward. Here she remained until shortly before her death.
Following Jane Austen’s writings, we see how each of the locations she lived or visited inspired her muse. For a lady of limited means, she is able to show us country settings, the Peak District, Bath, the coast, and London. I can’t imagine living in such uncertainty for so long, but the stories she left behind transport us to those locations, giving us a glimpse of life at that time.
So, we are still undecided of where we will end up, but we continue exploring the possibilities. I hope, should we decide to move, that I am able to follow in Austen’s footsteps and draw inspiration from my surroundings as she did.
Have you moved about or do you prefer to stay securely settled in one place?