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Dear Little Bobby,
I’m an illustrator and comic book artist with a decent day job in a city that is so ridiculously expensive I am struggling to figure out if it’s worth living here. A big part of this equation is that I have to live with roommates, and I really don’t want to. My roommates are actually cool people and I like them a lot BUT I really feel like I’m built to live alone. Doing my own work late at night and on weekends or my (ahem) “sick” days is so much harder with people around. I just want my own quiet place but I can’t afford it here. The fucked up thing is that I’m afraid to move to a small/cheap city because I think it will be boring and not give me the buzz of energy this city does. What should I do?
—Stuck with Roommates in the Bay Area
Dear Stuck with Roommates,
A few years after college I moved from my hometown of Dallas/Waco Texas, away from my family, to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mostly, I was tired of the heat, the humidity and the conservatives. Then, upon settling into my new environment, I found another wonderful benefit: This place is almost literally dirt cheap.
Besides the green chile and the dirt-cheapness I love it here because we have wonderful people. I formed a band with friends, the weather is amazing—and I was able to buy a house in my early 30s. Because my house was so affordable, I was also (barely) able to keep it when I lost my high-paying job and worked multiple minimum wage jobs for two years. I had to work my ass off to not lose my home, but I still made it.
Do you need the buzz of energy from a big city or do you create your own buzz? There is no shame in either.
I lived by myself for eight years because I too wanted to be alone, for LOTS of reasons. My life is nothing like it would have been if I had stayed in Texas.
I’m not saying you should move; I’m just saying I am glad that I moved when I did. In making your decision you need to weigh the “buzz of energy” your city gives you against your desire to live alone. Which ones takes priority? If you decide to stay, will you be unhappy? If so, what is the point? The same goes for moving.
As the years have gone by, there were a few times when I thought maybe I should leave my adopted home here in New Mexico, especially when I was working multiple jobs to keep my house, on top of playing music in a town with a relatively small music community. I had the sensation of being a fish in a small pond…longing for the ocean. Several times I thought maybe Portland or Seattle was calling my name, but I could never be sure so I decided to stay.
I stayed because this is where I belong, in this town, in this house, in this band. You need to feel like you belong, wherever that is. Can you work around the scheduling difficulties? Can you realistically conceive of a future where you live alone? Is that something that you can wait for? Only you can answer that for you, by knowing how much your art means to you, what your private time means to you.
Do you need the buzz of energy from a big city or do you create your own buzz? There is no shame in either. I like living in a city where I am within driving distances of several other major cities. Each one of them provides plenty of buzz—usually for a high price. They are nice places to visit.
Take lots of time to decide. Do not stress about it. It is wonderful to have an artistic outlet and friends. You are blessed. Listen to your heart. Then do not hesitate to follow it.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“Don’t need to search no more exotic islands.” —The Beach Boys, “Where I Belong” 1980