Catriona writes: Since Laura joined Hank and me on Tuesdays here at Fatal Acres, we've become a well-oiled machine: the first week is Hank, the second is me, the third is Laura, the fourth is a conversation amongst the three of us. If there's a fifth . . . we throw our aprons over our heads and rush about, scaring the chickens.
Thinking about the three of us, I realised that we're strung out across the country like beads on a (pretty frugal) necklace, in Boston, Colorado and California. And yet Hank has an R in CAR, I'm sure I've heard Laura say Y'ALL, and my Valley Girl twang leaves something to be desired . . .
So where did you come from (my lovelies) and how did you get where you are?
Catriona: I was born in Queensferry, a village just outside (now swallowed by ) Edinburgh, in Scotland. So was my dad. My mum’s an incomer, who’s only been there since 1956. They’re watching her with a beady eye.
Laura: Valdosta, Georgia. My "y'all" can't really be from there, though, since we moved to Texas (my father was an Air Force fighter pilot) when I was four. Hm, what's the diff between a Texas "y'all" and a Georgia "y'all?" You're a linguist, Catriona--you can probably tell me!
Catriona: Hmm, not sure, but give me a map of the USA and I could still draw you the hey-hi-howdy line.
Hank: I was born in Chicago! My father was the music critic for the old Chicago Daily News, and my mother was in art school. After 33 years in Bostson, I can say “seeya latah” and “awesome” pretty perfectly, though.
And what brought you to where you are today?
Laura: A long and winding road brought me from Georgia to Colorado. It involved many moves with my family, to places as diverse as the Philippines and Oklahoma; college in San Antonio; and then my own Air Force career which took me from Texas to Colorado to Washington D.C. (twice), to Pennsylvania, to Thailand, to Korea, to Alabama (twice), to England, and back to Colorado. Whew!
Hank: Oh gosh, long and winding road is right! Shortest possible version? I was a radio reporter in Indiana (where I lived most of my pre-adult life), then a legislative aide in Washington DC, then a editorial assistant at Rolling Stone magazine, then TV reporter and anchor in Indianapolis, then anchor and reporter in Atlanta, and a 1983, I was offered a TV reporting job here in Boston. I am fascinated by this question, because at any moment, along the way, we each could've made a different turn!
Catriona: I lived quite happily for forty years on various bumps of that wee grey rock where I was born, latterly in Galloway – away over in the west – where I took up full-time writing. But the other bit of that plan was that I could write wherever and so if my husband found a job he loved, I’d go with him. Anywhere within reason. Such as California. AWAY over in the west!
Best and worst things about where you live?
Hank: Boston is beautiful, vibrant, historic, and, being a Midwest girl, I still gasp every time I see the Atlantic Ocean. And Boston is full of incredible mystery- writing colleagues, as well as other world-class authors. Worst? Ha ha Ha… A couple of years ago we had 100 inches of snow. One hundred inches of snow! And beware of driving here… everyone drives like a banshee.
Catriona: The best thing about Northern California . . . the people are incredibly friendly. Insanely friendly. I’ve told this story before but: I went into the supermarket one day and a young woman came bounding up and said “Hey! How are you? Good to see you!” I looked hard at her and said: “I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve forgotten where we met.” Of course, we’d never met. She’s that pleased to see everyone. The worst thing about the Sacramento valley is the summer heat. Once I left my metal rubbish bin outside and had to put oven gloves on to bring it back in. And I ate a tomato off the vine and burned my mouth. But there’s no humidity and it cools down in the evening when the Bay breeze gets sooked up the valley.
Laura: We love Colorado Springs. From a writing perspective, perhaps the best thing is my view of Pikes Peak from my office window. It never fails to inspire. There's also a robust writing community in town, and people value the arts in general. On other fronts, I love that I can be hiking up the side of a mountain with only a twenty minute drive, that the weather is generally on the dry side so we're not fighting mildew and confronting still-damp towels in the morning, that traffic is not an unholy snarl (despite the fact this is the 40th largest city in the country), that we've got a great symphony--we saw YoYo Ma on Friday night!--and several theater companies. I guess another minor downside is that airfares are higher than they would be in Denver, say, or Dallas, but we've got a nice, convenient airport with short(ish) TSA lines, so that makes up for it.
And finally, if you could live anywhere (with teleportation to hand, if necessary) where would it be?
Laura: If we're fantasizing, I'd love to have a house on water--a lake or the ocean--but I don't want mosquitoes. I'd like to be a bit further from the congestion of town, but I still want to be close enough in to run to a grocery store when I forget an ingredient for dinner. I want to be surrounded by nature, but I want a major airport nearby. Yup, all mutually exclusive. I love Colorado and can't really imagine living anywhere else now, unless we have to move for Tom's job (which is a possibility). Colorado would be the perfect state if it had an ocean!
Catriona: I’d live on the coast. (America: You do live on the coast!). No but it’s 90mins to Bodega Bay from here and even though you can see where The Birds was filmed when you get there, that hurts. I’ve never lived more than about a 20min drive from the sea. So, in my dreams, I live in mid-Cornwall, with Scottish butchers, and California produce.
Hank: I laughed at this, because of the old Steven Wright joke: he saw a sign that said "breakfast anytime and so he ordered scrambled eggs during the French Revolution.
And you know me, over analytical, it would depend on a lot of things, like how much money I had and what I was doing there. Paris certainly tempts. But Boston is not bad. Even with the terrible drivers.
How about everyone else: Best and worst? Dream home? Comment below and let us know.