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Sticking to the Familiar

My wife is visiting this week, which at least temporarily restores some familiar order to my daily routines. Even before her first visit, I'd already established some routines in and around our new home.

One of the "happy things" about the new home is that I can stick to five major roads for everything from getting to work to shopping for groceries. I don't want to learn more roads, and am in no hurry to memorize new paths to anywhere. I drive down an interstate expressway to work. The same expressway takes me to shopping centers or to the streets on which shopping is located.

I shop for groceries at two stores. In our previous residence, I preferred one store but shopped at several because cities are like that. Living in a rural area, there is one dedicated grocer and a Super Walmart within a few miles of our house. Those two are our choices and I'm content with that. I can memorize two store layouts and develop my routines.

There is one restaurant I really like. I've been there seven times. There's no impulse to try other places — I like it (good Mexican food) and don't know if I will like other places. The reason I went into the restaurant in the first place was that it resembled familiar family-owned restaurants back in California. It looked like the places that were part of my old routines.

Today we tried to go to an unfamiliar area in a nearby county. I didn't like the drive. I'm doubtful I will return often to this new area because the drive was stressful. I'd rather stick to the familiar, the "cookie cutter" strip centers along the interstate expressway that are within miles of the campus where I teach. Maybe when my wife is here, we can explore this other shopping area, but I won't be going alone.

I've done better after moving than I thought I would because I have found the familiar. I shop at the same stores I did in Minnesota and California. Target is Target. Staples is Staples. While I have fond memories of the local businesses of my youth, there is a reason chains have done well: the experience is predictable. McDonald's does well because people know it is roughly the same, restaurant to restaurant.

For me to try new things, I have to first be comfortable. In a year or two, I'm sure I'll experiment more locally. For now, I need my routines.


  1. I think this is true for a lot of people!

  2. I completely understand where you're coming from when you write about sticking to the familiar - I'm exactly the same. I hate driving unfamiliar routes because it is stressful and I tend to get lost easily.

  3. Good point about the chain stores. It gives me insight on how to incorporate them into visiting new areas with my son. Thanks!


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