Like most teenagers growing up I thought that cities were The Best. There could be nothing better in the world than being surrounded by culture and coolness 24 hours a day. Maybe I figured that if cities were amazing, then I must also be amazing by virtue of living in one. (But if you walk through any city, you realize that there are a lot of people living there who are anything but amazing.) I just figured that when I grew up I would always live in a city. Because I’m Smart and Sophosticated. I’m a city kind of girl, right?
As I get older it’s still fun to spend time in cities every once in a while, but for the most part I just roll my eyes at the whole self-important feeling that permeates most big cities. I don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses, which seems to be the biggest pastime in cities. Nor do I care about business, trendiness of any sort, or really even culture that much (although it pains me to admit that).
Last week I found myself driving through a darling little town about an hour away. One house that I passed by was pretty and yellow with white gingerbread trim and a big American flag out front. All I could think was how much I wanted to live there. As I get older a slower, friendlier lifestyle is becoming more appealing. I’m not so interested in cool new restaurants; I’d rather find a cute café that serves really good pie. I don’t really care about concerts or who the hot new singers are. This morning I spent a couple of hours listening to the Bluegrass channel on my XM radio–on Sundays it’s religious Bluegrass; songs about country preachers and well-worn bibles. It’s not even meant to be ironic. It’s just really sincere music. And I’m really digging that sort of sincerity these days.
Honestly I don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere, because let’s face facts, I hate Walmart. And we all know that if you live in a small town Walmart is the best you’re going to get. But I do like the idea of knowing all my neighbors (not so easy in suburbia when everybody is moving in and out all the time). I like the idea of my kids being able to find nature easier than driving to a park. I like the idea of a cute little main street and a sense of history. And of course I love friendliness. I like that when I go to a small town around here people all say hello and smile at me. I like that if I go into the gas station I find out within three minutes that the clerk has served two tours in Iraq and that his little boy likes trains.
I don’t really know what this means for me. I’m not a farming type of girl (seeing as how I’m lazy and don’t like to go outside unless vitally necessary), so that’s pretty much out. I love to imagine farming; the idea is so very appealing. But it’s just not going to happen. I guess I can try to live my honest-to-goodness lifestyle here in the burbs. I will have my foot halfway between the city (yay for SuperTarget and Costco and multiplexes!) and one foot in the country (yay for living in a state with lots of sweet little towns and nice people!) I’ll just have to settle for a big american flag and lemonade on the porch overlooking my cul-de-sac.