I like Manchester very much. Every time I step off the train into the city I can feel a distinct sense of brightening. But honestly I don't know the city at all well; when I make plans to meet or take friends there and they ask me for suggestions, I often end up saying, dunno, I, um, just like walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. ( what I did on my summer holidays )
I feel a bit silly about this; I live barely and hour away from Manchester, and I am a great fan of the place, but in practice I rarely go there. And when I go there, I don't take advantage of all the city has too offer because I'm too busy being awed by how cool the city is in general. I want to go to Manchester and intentionally drink in excellent pubs and eat in fantastic restaurants. I want to take friends to explore the city's culture, whether it's famous tourist destinations or little quirky out-of-the-way places. I even want to plan shopping expeditions deliberately, rather than just wander about looking for shinies. I want to get involved in the famous gay scene. (I totally planned to do Manchester Pride this year, but I just didn't get things together to go to Manchester twice in one weekend.)
And I want to maintain connections with the three progressive synagogues there. I have the closest connections with Menorah (Cheshire Reform), and they do some great educational events, but that's out in the suburbs and somewhat of a pain to get to by public transport. I'm fond of Jackson's Row, but the only way I'd get in is by playing on personal connections with the rabbi there; I'm not in a position, financially or time-wise, to actually join the community. And Manchester Liberal, the community I'd really like to work with because they're small and new and Queer-friendly (and the other week they did an accessibility service, how cool is that?), basically only meet on Friday evenings when I'm already committed in Stoke.
I think basically what I want is to live
in Manchester (not an hour away). I've realized this may be part of why I was so keen for lethargic_man
to take up the offer of moving with his previous job to Manchester: for me, that opportunity would be a wish from a fairy godmother! If only I could keep my current job, which is perfect for me, with my current institution, which I really like and appreciate, but live in Manchester rather than here, my life would be basically perfect.
I need to figure out whether I actually want to move to Manchester even absent a fairy godmother. The pros would be that I think I'd be a lot happier living there; I'm a medium-sized city girl at heart, and Stoke just has too little going on for me. My Jewish life would be amazingly better. And even if I had to give up my current spacious semi for a flat, I think that would be worth it. The cons would be job stuff; I'd probably have to get a new job, and yes, Manchester does have universities but there's no guarantee that I'd get a job at all, let alone as good as my current one. Or else I'd have to commute from Manchester; that would probably blot out all the advantages of living there rather than here. And I am committed to my community here; it's not unthinkable that I could come up to Stoke just for Friday nights, though it would be a pain and I'd be less able to support them if I lived out of town. And Manchester is just enough further away from my friends in London and Cambridge that it might tip the balance. As it is I'm spending most of my fun budget and nearly all my leisure time visiting people in the South-East, and that's probably why I don't
just pop up to Manchester and do fun stuff.
And when I start thinking like this, I start getting itchy feet in general. Do I really want to commit myself to spending the rest of my working life in one job and one town? Getting engaged kind of means I can't just run off on adventures at the drop of a hat any more, and part of me resents that even though I don't have any specific adventures I wish I was having. Moving to anywhere that was not Manchester would have all the same disadvantages, only much worse: I might not find a job, I would (most likely) be further away from SE England, I'd have to drop my involvement with the community here. I suppose this is what you call having roots, isn't it? Weird sensation for me, when I've always assumed I'd spend my life flitting from country to country on short-term contracts.