Today, I sit here on my bed and feel like I have all the things I'll ever need in my life around me, tucked away in the attic of a Cambridgeport house and built into a quiet little Cambridge life I'm really getting used to. But! Is it so? Let's examine this issue.
A good friend of mine Chris told me as we cut across Jamaica Plain on our bikes about some thinking that was solidifying in his head. This theory isn't universal, but rings eerily close to my experience.
So, imagine you had my parents, and think for a moment about what it's like to be home. Life has a sort of fundamental certainty to it. Your parents (might) have lived in the place for a long time, decades perhaps. Their social network is huge. With a roguish sort of economist grin, I'd pin a name on this that sounds something like "personable capital".
Life is easy when you're home and you can hop on this network, and use this capital built up over years. There is no uncertainty about who to look for if you need something, and there is great certainty that if you need something, you can find it. You have the same family doctor and dentist you've had for years, maybe generations, and a dozen different cousins and aunts and uncles, and then friends, who are accountants, travel agents, stock brokers and everything in between.
Chris describes it as being "failure proof", how options abound. Even if you were completely out of luck striking into the world on your own, you could always find something to fall back onto. The network is powerful. Indeed, we build networks of our own everyday, and Chris is absolutely sure (and I quite convinced) that the world doesn't work through the "normal channels" but rather through the tapping -nay, milking- of networks.
But networks today are different, just as people are. One might think, I haven't stayed in the same place for two years- sure, my parents have, but I haven't had time (and perhaps physical constraints in space and travel) to build the same things they had. Now moving is cheap, and people move around a lot. We keep in touch with cell phones and emails and spread networks across the world. Chances are, if I drop into some city tomorrow, I might find someone I know nearby in the same province or state. We still hang on to people, just in different ways. Eh?