City Mouse –> Country Mouse

citycountry

The other day I was standing in a parking lot, waiting for our Azure delivery (it’s like Costco for organic/non-GMO foods – cheaper, in bulk, and there are delivery spots all over the country, love it…), and chatting up a lady about what we were ordering, where I was from (being the new kid in the group, after all), etc. Part of the discussion ended up being about our ducks, as I was waiting for my 2 bags of feed as part of my order, and I busted up laughing when she said…

You seem much more like a farm gal than a city gal!

I’ve never lived in the country. Ever. Love the city – love the energy – love the variety – and especially, love the diversity. And honestly, when I think of my 20’s, I think of something more along the lines of me like this:

sazerac

But no matter what I was up to in the city? I was always a beach bum. And I spent a month every summer throughout adolescence riding horses in the Southern Oregon countryside, and the quiet and the sounds of nature were always soothing. With my first husband, he always needed a fan on in the room because he couldn’t stand the quiet…it drove me insane as I love the peace. Out here we hear crickets and birds and coyotes and – thanks to a neighbor up the hill – goats and mules that in tandem sound like something out of Jurassic Park. We love it. We’re stoked.

And yeah, I know, we still haven’t bought our riding lawn mower.

But anyhow. You can’t categorize people, y’all. It’s something that’s always irked the hell out of me, people trying to organize other people into neat little compartments to make things easier for themselves. And the more we recognize these tendencies in ourselves, hopefully the more we can wrench our way out of those box-making habits. I am not a country mouse. I am not a city mouse. Hell, I grew up in the suburbs in a town of ~ 10,000 people but at the same time, as teenagers we’d roll our inner tubes down the hill to the river one day and the next would hop a bus downtown and wear our black clothes and smoke our clove cigarettes. We were whatever we wanted to be.

And I must say… I am sure loving where we are these days.

HiiHsummerbazaar

One of the things we were adamant about was moving to a town where there were still artists…and therefore, a greater respect for diversity. Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage,” and we wanted to be around courageous people. People who come from all walks of life, people who are different from us, people we can learn from and be inspired by, people who have seen things and people who can tell great stories. Now, mind you, not all are artists in the traditional sense, but what we’ve found in Astoria is this gorgeous blend of the hardy Oregonian (after all, you don’t move somewhere with 68″ average annual precipitation unless you’re cool with the color gray… and you don’t move somewhere along the coast without a willingness to bend in the wind…) and the side of Oregon I was used to being around – the artist / bohemian / hippie / indie vibe that encourages people to explore whatever is in them, without the pretention that often comes along in cities where things for some reason get competitive and condescending towards those who don’t drink their flavor of Kool-Aid.

Anyhow, we are still in the infatuation phase, as I reminded my husband, and this past weekend was most definitely a heart-thumping-ly sweet day as we made our first real foray into our “neighborhood”.

Now, we live on 5.6 acres on a hill not far from the river, and there are no sidewalks, so the word neighborhood I believe would be best described as “within a mile or two of each other” around these parts. But the thing about living in a town of 9,000 people is that you – just like they promise – lose your anonymity quite quickly. I mean, dang, my husband is like Mister Social Butterfly out here – and while I work from home, even in the few solo interactions I’ve had outside of Home Depot and the like, both of us are fast evolving to the Two Degrees of Separation state of being.

Back to the heart-thumping story. So we were messaging a neighboring farmer back and forth this past month or so to try and arrange a visit to see her animals and hopefully order some meat chickens from her, and as things were not coinciding, she said, well hey I’m going to be at this Summer Bazaar nearby, why don’t you come? Being totally out of the loop, we learned that sure enough, the art studio we’d passed a couple times on the way to Seaside was hosting it.

And damn! It was so cool. First of all, check out HiiH Lights – and watch the video in there. It’s gorgeous, their work is so unique and amazing, and I love the stories of artists and how they got to where they are. They were the ones who hosted the event at their barn, with lots of great vendors and a cinnamon coffee ice cream that was out of this world. Yes we’ve all been to little places where people sell stuff, but when we met them, they were genuinely excited to meet us.

Today I was talking to a lady at the place where I get my massages now, and she said it took her many years to get used to the difference between the small town vibes. While you leave the city to get some fucking space and room to breathe, you quickly learning a small town that the claustrophobia is just in a different form. Everybody know somebody that you know, and everybody wants to know your business. You need the community because it’s small town but sometimes you just go in the barn and hide and turn up your music. you pretend that if you’re talkin loud on your own property that the neighbors aren’t listening and that your voice doesn’t carry up the hill or across the street. you remind yourself that you need to plant some more trees…stat. But at the same time you are comforted at the familiarity and that even though people are asking you questions and getting in your business, at least even a half an acre away they give a shit, when you know people who lived just a few feet away from you could give you the cold stare and tell your husband that you were a bad neighbor because you wouldn’t let their general contractor use your driveway like it was his own…days before your about to move out. You might not have sidewalks here but you don’t have to worry about walking home from the grocery store with some creepy person behind you forcing you to walk faster. And while it’s a pain in the ass to drive 15 miles round trip just to go to the grocery store, compared to the five minute walk you had before in the city, you know that when you get home you can breathe big deep breaths.

And that’s what keeps me going. My grief doesn’t end because I am in the country, but at least every five steps I take doesn’t have me seeing giant bellies and all of the other things I have never experienced and wonder if I ever will. So far no one here has asked me if I have children beyond our next door neighbors, who I told upfront that we battled infertility for years and hope 3+ years of adoption waiting will someday turn into reality. But when your husband no longer says he’s sure we will get chosen, your heart breaks just a little bit more and you wonder. You find yourself jealous of the grandparents next door and you don’t even want to talk to them, you put on your fake smile and go back into the house. You find gratitude in the fact that you don’t have to leave the house… You don’t have to engage…

And you just hope that this country life will see pin you somehow and find ways to heal the broken.

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