Sunapee, New Hampshire
I just came back from a week long trip in the East Coast covering New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York (Sunapee, Hamilton, Boston and NYC to be exact, but it sounds a lot cooler if I say I went to three different states). I've written about NYC before and
so has a billion different bloggers, Boston is nothing new to most Americans, so I want to talk about this New Hampshire town I spent three days in. A quick shoutout to one of my closest friends (and the best roommate I've ever had as an adult - you know you're the only one I've had right?) Mike, as well as the entire Dik family who were the best hosts I could ask for. For their privacy, I'm not uploading any of the pictures of their beautiful home or anything that involves their neighborhood, but take my word for it when I say this might be one of the most ideal retirement spots in the world (outside of Irvine, CA of course). For a bit of a background story of my one week off - this trip began as me joining my friend Will at Governor's Ball in NYC (will dedicate a post to this later), which we planned during our week off in Nags Head, NC. A few months later, after Mike's family visited us in Chicago, his dad graciously invited me to their lake house in New Hampshire. My super efficiency disorder gears started turning and decided that I should just do this all in one week while I was on the East Coast anyways, using Boston as a stop along the way. It worked out beautifully as Mike was looking for housing in Boston - I'm sure I've mentioned this too many times by now, but one of my favorite feelings is when the logistics of a trip works out perfectly and I have plans back to back with no room to breathe. That's exactly what this trip became, but enough with my protagonist storyline.
For those of you who are city-lifers or are from "relevant" suburbs of highly populated coast states, Sunapee is the type of town you've only seen in movies or think of in your head when someone makes you think of what "old school America" looks like. I think Americans often forget that outside of the mainstream media's coverage of all that occurs in cities, there exists a significant population that lives in neighborhoods with real trees and real people (joking!) My point being - it's easy to be caught up in the lifestyles that young people are supposed to be having, causing us to miss out on what could be a calm and fulfilling way of living. Granted, I do want to give full recognition that Mike's parents are extremely talented and hard working people who have worked their butts off to be where they are now and their current way of living is a fractional representation of what they've built in their lifetime. What I want to highlight is that although I've spent the majority of my life glorifying the highly populated coastal lifestyle (often noting that "nothing in the world is better than Southern California), I'm really starting to acknowledge the merit of living in small towns and the benefits that come from doing so.
The picture above is one I took from the plane, which is a rather fair representation of the entire state of New Hampshire (I'm sure I'm overly generalizing here, but if paints a good picture of the vibe one may get if they've never been to such a place). The thing that hits you the hardest, especially if you come from a background like mine, is the overwhelming abundance of trees that are constantly surrounding you wherever you go. Paired with this are the "obvious" aspects of the East Coast wooded neighborhoods you may imagine, supplemented by the soundless air, zero pollution night skies and the ability to walk miles without seeing a single person. I do think it'll be some time before I'm able to live in such a neighborhood comfortably (both in financial terms and where my mind is at right now), but it's hard to imagine anyone refusing to live in such circumstances past retirement. It fully embodies everything you'd want after a life of "hustle," and I envision myself to slowly turn towards this direction as I become older and wiser (and realize going clubbing is not a priority in life). There are significant "setbacks" to living in such a place, as mentioned above, there's no people in general, definitely no Korean food, and anything "relevant" is at least a 2 hour drive away. But as I spent my time with Mike's family, I began to note that if you had a life partner and some of form of time-taking hobby (Mike's father gardens), I'm not sure you'll need any of the things I just mentioned. If anything, this trip provoked me to be active in thinking about a girlfriend / wife in the context of having them be a life long partner and how important that is in a fulfilling life.
I do wonder how different my current mindset would have panned out if my trip took a reverse order and I started in New York City and ended in Sunapee. I'm sure I would've enjoyed the relaxation after the exhaustion that NYC always brings for me (in a weird, perverted, good way), but I also think building my way up into the realm of "meeting new people" was a great unintended practice. After being home for a bit, it always takes some time (even for an extrovert like me) to revamp by social gears, and on top of the pandemic having its toll on me, I think my age is also getting to me. I'm no longer as excited about meeting completely new people and am very conscious about who I choose to spend time with and the value they bring to my life. It's less about the tangible aspects of "how is this person going to benefit me in the future" but rather "is the time I'm about to spend with this person essential to my overall well being." In some ways, I think we get more selfish as we get older, continuously getting better at recognizing what we truly want as opposed to what people tell us what we should want. The faster we're able to isolate those things and be comfortable with them, the "happier" we can become.
I'm not saying by any means that I'm ready to go settle down in Sunapee nor am I saying that I have a full grip on what I want and don't. I do think that this trip helped me realize what my near term priorities should be and the lifestyle that I probably ultimately want to have as well as the components that I need to get there. I'm always a big proponent of domestic trips as we're all fortunate enough to live in a country that's technically 50 countries in one - there's so much to gain by escaping your bubble. I highly recommend you to do so while you're able.