Dictionary.com defines wanderlust as a “very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.” I like to call myself an urban nomad. As I have mentioned before, I am constantly moving. I’ve actually moved every year since my freshman year of college. (Not always to a new city). So far I have only found a few places where I’d actually like to settle. Here are my top 5:
1) Ft. Lauderdale
I love this place. The only reason I left South Florida is because my position at the organization I was working for was being eliminated. I searched endlessly for a comparable job but was unable to find one. I can admit that I complained bitterly about people staring at me in my hijab, how rude South Floridians can be, and how lacking the social justice scene was. Now, in all honesty, I can tell you that I have missed Ft. Lauderdale almost every single day that I’ve been away from it. Most importantly, I miss the Muslim community. I haven’t found one like it since I left.
Another city I love. I visited Toronto years ago but it left a lasting impression on my mind. I was supposed to be there for a week but I ended up staying for almost a month. What did I love about T.O.? The diversity, the pulse of the city, and how it had a New York feel without the aggressiveness (or the uncleanliness). Most importantly, I love that I could find Caribbean Muslims, Ethiopians (my adopted community, lol), city life, shopping(!), great universities, and progressive people all in one town.
When most people think of Seattle they think of rain and dreariness. I think of my best friend, clean air, the Pike Place Market, the best Gyros I’ve ever tasted in my life, Gelato, driving to Queen Ann for $5 cupcakes, and a bustling, busy city. I’ve been out there to see my best friend a total of three times (on long, extended trips). There is a peace, a tranquility about Seattle that I find difficult to describe. I keep saying that I would love to live there yet I never made any effort to do so. (I might’ve applied for a job at one point). Will it ever happen? Allah knows best…
I will always have an affection for Miami in my heart. Surprisingly, it’s where I came back to practicing Islam. Miami is where I essentially found myself again. Yes, I admit to loving Ft. Lauderdale (Broward County!) more but I’d live in Miami again if I could. Before I moved there people warned me about the crime. They made it sound like I’d be mugged or raped as soon as I set foot outside. Friends of mine insisted that I’d hate it because people are self-absorbed and all into their outward appearances. They said Miami is like LA (Los Angeles) which I absolutely hated for those reasons. However, it wasn’t like that at all. Yeah, there were people who embraced the glamorous life but I met plenty of people who were real, solid individuals.
5) Savanna-la-mar, Jamaica (Brap!)
Patriotic Jamaicans & Jamericans alike might question why Sav is number five on the list. It’s cultural blasmphemy I know! I love Sav. It’s home. However, we all know about the economic, political and criminal problems facing Jamaica. I’ve spoken with plenty of Jamaicans living abroad who have decided against returning for those reasons. Secondly, I worry about what my life would be like as a hijabi in Sav. As you all know, I take issue with people staring at me and asking stupid questions. I may be wrong but I envision such things happening to me in Sav. (I’ve also talked to Muslim sisters about their experience wearing hijab and interacting in the larger society- most of it was disconcerting). I think I need to go and see for myself…who’s up for a trip?
Close runner up:
I’m really sorry it didn’t make this list but Chicago is definitely a place I’d live. I always say that Chicago is the only Midwestern city I could actually see myself settling in. Yeah, it’s cold and the crime is really out of hand but it’s also home. I still have plenty of family in Chicago from both my mom and dad’s side of the family. (That might be why it didn’t make the list- just kidding guys!) Aside from the fond childhood memories I have, I love Chicago because of the city life. The pizza, the stepping, and the night life are certainly pluses. As a Muslim there is no denying the history there. I still love you Chi-town! Big up Hyde Park!