So I was reading an op-ed piece by David Brooks of the New York Times entitled Living south of the Haimish Line. The basic concept had to do with the Yiddish word haimish. The essence of which is warmth, domesticity, and unpretentious conviviality. In other words someplace happy and comfortable. He tied it to simplicity vs sophistication. For example, going out to dinner: you can choose a fancy restaurant with great food and service and you’ll find a very reserved atmosphere with an unwritten code of conduct. Or you can choose a more casual place where the food and service may not be as good but patrons there tend to laugh out loud and kick back in their chairs. The fancy restaurant, Brooks said, was north of the haimish line while the casual place lies south of it.
Why am I relaying this to you? Because it struck me that my life, and indeed the lives of many these days, may be heading south of the haimish line. Like so many, my wife and I got caught up int the real estate bust and we’re in the middle of short selling our house. As a result we’ve begun downsizing our life. We found a rental half the size of our house which means we need to get rid of a lot of stuff. And believe me, we have a lot of stuff. Oddly, though, it feels good to shed all that weight! We’re going from a nice new home to a 70 year old house in an old neighborhood. In fact my mother told me that my dad was actually born just a few doors down from where we’re moving to. Amazing. All of which adds to this feeling that we’re getting back to our roots.
It feels good. We’re getting more in touch with our priorities and figuring out what’s important to us. For a long time we got caught up in the pursuit of stuff. As a country I think we all became a nation of Jones trying to keep up with each other drifting further and further north of the haimish line. What we’re finding is we just want a place to live where we can enjoy the company of friends and family. Rather than stuff we crave experiences, time together with those we care about and traveling in search of new friends and experiences.
So we’re moving. We’re downsizing. We’re getting rid of stuff (if you need some stuff we definitely have some to hook you up with). We’re moving from the east to the west side. But more importantly we’re moving south of the haimish line.