Is it just me that’s in a phase of life where anything is possible? That even though the world is a TikTok dumpster fire, somehow there’s still inspiration wherever you look? Don’t worry; I haven’t gone all “golly gee gosh” on you. Even though I’m getting older, I‘m feeling this limitless moment. At a time when ageism is rampant and the AARP is hounding me to join, how is this possible?
Fact. I love how age frames my absolute “YES” and my “HELL NO” receptors. That’s why the AGEIST team is giving me a different place to celebrate this new sense of what could be with a new column called Could I Do It?, a place to opine about trying new things or daydreaming about doing so sometime in the near future. I hope to inspire you to see this point in life’s possibilities, no matter how far-fetched or warm and fuzzy they may seem. I’ll go first.
And first up is all about a sense of place. As many of you know, I am a card-carrying, WNYC tote bag-carrying New Yorker. It is the only city I know how to live in as an adult and, after a 7-year detour to sunny Miami, I came running back and haven’t contemplated life anywhere since. But with city life skewing edgy and my coat closet stuffed to the gills, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I daydream about less sharp corners and more space. So a recent trip to sunny, funny Palm Springs had me asking:
Could I live here?
For context, my husband and I were out in Los Angeles the week before Christmas and decided to take a long-awaited trip to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs. He loves Joshua Tree and it felt like a great time to go, and I always dreamt of midcentury Christmas in Palm Springs, so there you have it.
And if you’re like me, it’s always fun to imagine what life would be like when you visit a new place. And quickly, my time in the Mojave went from a whisper to a far louder “Could I fucking live here?”
In theory, yes.
Joshua Tree has the boho, off-kilter, Gram Parsons-on-the-moon vibe that had me buzzing from the moment I stepped into the Integratron. Palm Springs’ architecture, fabulous cocktails, and sunny weather delighted me. Not to mention an endless array of gay men and vintage clothing, two of my favorite things. I couldn’t believe how good the sun felt on my face (and how the dry air is a chef’s kiss for my hair), and being able to jump into a hot tub after a long day of exploring felt magical on the weird sciatic pain I started having after the flight out west.
But groovy sunshine daydreams aside, there’s a reality to that imagined life of kidney-shaped poolside cocktails and a caftan closet.
According to Realtor.com, the median listing home price in Palm Springs, CA, was $850K in 2022, trending up 20.8% year-over-year. The median listing home price per square foot was $486, and the median home sold price was $525K.
This insane house I spotted in Joshua Tree, an admittedly lo-fi though cosmically connected place, proves that Gram land is anything but untapped. And because of my non-pioneer nature, I often spot areas past their affordable due date. Still, a million and a half dollars could get you something dreamy like this and, in a city like New York, that seems more than fair. And then this piece in The New York Times popped up on my feed to show something wholly affordable.
There’s also a weather consideration; in the summer, you’ve got to vamoose unless you want to vaporize. Too hot. And even though exceptionally gay-friendly, it’s not a demographically diverse place, and that’s not ideal. And could an area that can feel a little like Fort Lauderdale satisfy a lifelong city girl? If New York is a powerful, seductive, and controlling lover, Palm Springs is its fun-loving, friendly, oddball counterpart.
At this point in my life, I want both, sans the controlling bit. We would split our time, in a perfect world, but just thinking about a life different from the one I pictured feels fantastic. Funny how instead of getting more deliberate and stubborn as I age, I feel myself opening up to new ideas and closing doors to stuff that feels “old me” or not part of a narrative I wish to participate in any longer.
So to answer the question, could I Iive in Palm Springs? It checks off many things for me and works as I transition into a life of self-pursuit and redefined success. I already made a friend or two there and met like-minded people my age. There is no shortage of fun shopping and ice-cold martinis and margaritas. The desert air feels great, and I love the colors and light of the whole ecosystem. So my answer? It’s a hypothetical yes, so consider it a cautious could do. I’m not entirely done being a full-time New Yorker, but long live thinking about something new. A ritualist and spiritual guide I know, Donna Henes, in her book The Queen of My Self, says this about midlife:
“This middling transitional shift into the next stage of our being promises us a vast world of possibilities for the second half of life. But first, before we are able to avail ourselves of the advantages and rewards of maturity, we must cross the Grand Canyon of midlife change.”
And if you’re reading this right now, how about you? Where is your place of possibility and does it look different than you thought it would? Does crossing the Grand Canyon feel scary or exhilarating? Talk to me in the comments. XO
This spoke to me, Sheri!
I am a born and raised NYC girl and up until a similar jaunt in Miami (albeit only 2 years) I went running back to NYC because it was my place. But, after about 2 years it didn’t feel the same. And if I am being honest hasn’t felt the same since 9/11. There was a sense of safety, that I actually felt growing up in the 70’s/80’s even though it was a decidedly more tenuous time in the city, that was gone.
11 years ago right before my 40th birthday I made the move to Tampa. Still Florida but downtown had a bit more of a city-ish vibe, most of my family is here, it is more diverse, a tad more liberal leaning and it just felt easier and safer somehow.
After the first year I was homesick for NYC but found myself enjoying Florida, of all places. All that to say I wasn’t sure I could, but I did and I am happier in a lot of ways. Politically, I want to poke myself in the eyes but I cope by staying informed and making progress in my community where I can.
Now I am months into being 50 and I am still happy to be here most days. And I get to go home to NYC whenever I want to see friends and some family still there. It’s a little like the best of both worlds.
Good luck in whatever you choose!!
Love this thank you! So insightful.
Thanks for this eyes-open-while-dream look at options. Two weeks into my 60th year, I so agree that my YES and HELL NO receptors are highly tuned. And while I’ve been a wandering soul for years, living from NY to CA to MI and now down south, I’m planning a move to what I hope? pray? expect? to be a home, the kind you stay in for more than a year or three. I’m excited about it … for many, the adventure is in changing. For me, the adventure will be seeing the change in my when I finally “settle in” someplace. Long live adventure of all sorts.
Amen! Thanks for reading.
Well I went out to the desert for ten straight winters and for three of them stayed thru summer…just shoot me, but I was teaching hunter/jumper riding and was a docent at the P.S art museum. Thankfully they had started having better contemporary art. As for Joshua Tree – just say no. It is not a hop skip and jump into Palm Springs from there it is a horrid longish boring wasteland of a drive which you would stop doing after you did it a few times. Have you heard of the jumping Cholla in the national park? Cactus that jump onto you if you get too close and have to be removed with a comb? Really, saw it myself on a hike where I also ended up boulder scrambling. Someone had to push my ass up a wall of boulders. Go for a few winters before you make a commitment…that’s what the residents advise.
Gail you are a woman of many lives! Where to next?
Back to LA for a few months.
You will always be one of my favorite writers and this new column will be another place for me to come read what I wish I could say that you express so perfectly. I tell everyone I know, which sort of defeats the point, that if one day you just can’t find me, I will be in Paris. Probably sitting on the lawn in front the the Louvre with a baguette and a sippy-cup of wine. Getting back to a place with history, changing weather, fashion, food, art, shopping and acceptance (still love how you walk down the street and every human seems to be the best version of themselves), a city to get lost in, Paris is where I always ask myself, “could I really live here?” I think yes.
Do it do it!
So many things I resonate with her and being a life-long Californian and desert -goer, your ‘appreciation list’ hits the spot for me (Vitamin-D-dose via the sun on the face, dry air for the hair…), but the part I am esp feeling (being 56) is, “but just thinking about a life different from the one I pictured feels fantastic. Funny how instead of getting more deliberate and stubborn as I age, I feel myself opening up to new ideas and closing doors to stuff that feels “old me” or not part of a narrative I wish to participate in any longer.”
Last year when I was sharing with a trusted mentor of mine (age 72) about how nothing seemed to work anymore (old style, old ideas, certain friends, etc) she said, “honey that’s why they call it the change of life…everything CHANGES.”
It feels freeing to not have to be attached to previous versions of myself, while at the same time, circling back to some core values that got lost along the way. We are a lucky generation (Gen X, for me) in that we came up in a time that had more opportunities than our mothers/parents with regard to self-determination and encouraged changing careers, going after what we wanted. So the fact that your view of the future feels more expansive than narrow, maybe is a testament social evolution and the beauty of throwing out the rule book, even the one we write for ourselves!
Thank you for this. Spot on.
It can feel like stepping into a black hole to upend your life and start over. And I did just that nearly 10 years ago after the end of a decades-long marriage. I left behind family and friends in the midwest I’d had since hot pants and baby blue eye shadow were de rigueur; but I worked through the scary part to now enjoy more than 300 days of abundant sunshine while feeling embraced by the San Jacinto Mountains. I live in a beautiful mid-century neighborhood where other curious seekers like myself reside. I have girlfriends galore. I’d make the move again as fast as you can say Top of the Tram (great views and hiking). The only caveat that dampens a single gal’s spirit? At the west end of the Coachella Valley in PS proper where I live, most of the men play for the other team, so I’m surrounded by well-coiffed and skinny-jean wearing dates to a myriad of social engagements. But dating straight? It’s fairly lackluster until golf and high season, when they trickle into town and remind me what it feels like to see a heterosexual man smile when I walk toward him.
I want to have lunch with you the next time I’m there! Sounds like your life is full of fabulousness, even without the straight men. Maybe even better because of the straight man desert? 😳
Please reach out on your next visit! I would love to lunch with you, and I know all the best spots. And it is a fabulous life…Linda
Congratulations on the new column! I always look forward to reading your thoughts and am thrilled to have more opportunities to do so!
I DO feel that anything is possible, except making a decision about all those ‘anythings’.
After 12 years years in NYC, I am out by the beach in New Jersey, living a very different life and thinking about all the future possibilities and the location of my ‘forever home’. I long for our city days but am enjoying the ease and simplicity of outside city life with a car and parking spot, sunrise walks on the boardwalk and space.
Palm Springs is certainly an incredible place, and I’ve considered Could I Live Here? on numerous occasions. Keep us posted on where you net out, perhaps a caravan out West!?
A caftan caravan would be everything.
i love palm spings. i would move there in a minute.
Sheri! Always love reading your columns, congrats on travel gig! I look forward to hearing your thoughts as you go galavanting around.
For me Palm Springs didn’t work. My wife and I left LA in June of ’18 with a strong desire to get the F— out of dodge. LA was starting to feel like NY, and I was starting to feel rage at all the people Wazing down my tiny single lane block at 55+ mph while avoiding Silverlake Blvd. One day after coming home to see my motorcycle lying on the ground with no note – I decided to sell.
We landed on Palm Springs, because we always enjoyed visiting in December – for many of the same reasons you mentioned, and I calculated it was only a 1.5 hour commute to LA, and I thought it would be a nice change of pace from the chaos that has become LA.
While it was a nice change of pace, and we made some good friends, enjoyed a few decent Bar/Restaurants, cozy spots (Love Paul Bar), lovely winter nights, and beautiful sunsets –
the commute was more like 2-3 hours (sometimes worse) and it felt like it was just growing too fast.
My Nextdoor link was blowing up with robberies, and break-ins…there was always that nagging thought of water, (okay, a bit Post-apocalyptic), but California truly is a really a mess with water management, not to mention, state & property taxes are pretty high. And there was allot of talk with disallowing AirBnB rentals – which really help subsidize being able to GTFO of PS in the summer. Living in A.C. also gets a little tiresome.
Anyway – you get the picture.
3 years later, on Labor Day, it was 123 degrees, we were in mid-covid, and a good portion of Coachella Valley was on fire. (real Fire and Brimstone shit). I guess it was the straw for us. We loaded up our pickup & the mini travel trailer I bought to do production during Covid, and headed out to visit family in Michigan. It actually turned into a 2 month+ jaunt around the country. My Brazilian wife hadn’t seen allot of the US and I was hell bent on finding our perfect place to live….we landed on Santa Fe, New Mexico, which ain’t perfect, but it definitely feels like home.
We love it here, and it’s not too hot for dogs :-). You’re welcome to come visit anytime!
would. LOVE that and so nice to hear from you here!
This new column is the answer to my dreams! I always ask, “Could I live here?’- every single trip…and drive my husband (the man who will never leave NYC) crazy.
I cannot wait to read where you take us to next- and you may just find my new dream location!
thanks that is so kind!!!!
Love the new column, as well as your Unapologetic Woman emails. I just love to read your articles and insights always get me thinking. I have lived FL most of my life (currently St. Petersburg, FL), with 10 year span in NE TN (beautiful topography, not to cold, not to hot) but a bit backwoods thinking for me. Though today FL politics leave me shaking my head. Staring down 54 in the next few months, newly remarried (congrats on your 20th Anni) I find myself wanting to do more art and volunteering, than pursuing the next sales quota.
The responses are encouraging me to just say F-This and start pursuing happiness more intentionally, get back to doing my own consulting work and do what XGENers do we survive the ups and down. I miss the mountains, fresh air and stillness of TN, but love the liveliness of St. Pete, the food, art, music, diversity and the water… So a little bit of both would be great!
Thanks for giving me/us perspective..
Can’t wait to read where you go next..!
Love this new column! I do the same thing when traveling. It is always nice to think about ‘what if’… I’m a native New Yorker, went to school and spent approx 10 yrs in South Florida, followed by a decade in DC and then another decade in Marin, CA (building my career). After a year in pandemic lockdown, my partner and I moved to Houston. A vibrant city, but it wasn’t quite for us (too hot!) so after a year we moved to Boulder, CO. Boulder is more aligned with our lifestyle and a lovely area, but maybe not a perfect fit. I’m looking at spending an extended period of time outside of the US – maybe Mexico City or Barcelona, because – why not?! As a fellow Gen Xer, getting older can be really tough, but I am absolutely loving the opportunities and options that I have now that I’m older. We all work so hard for so long. Now it is time to focus on joy. Life is for living! Sheri – I’m looking forward to seeing where you go next!