First, I have to preface this post. This move is wading so tentatively in the shallows of the conceptual stage that I haven’t even begun to pack boxes. So as I go forward with writing about some definite move from the city to the country, please know that things could change, and this blog could end up being about how a dream changed, or, god forbid, how a dream died. If I decide to get really creative I might go back to the original concept of this blog, living out my fictional fantasy of moving close to my family farm, while writing it all from the comfort of the city. Now, as this blog progresses, you may not really know if I’m up there or not! Muahahahaha!
Now, with that out of the way, let’s plan a move that’s definitely without a doubt going to happen!! Woohoo!!
Moving to a small town is a whimsical dream for many. All the lovely small town dreams I envision aren’t too different than those of the city-slicker dopes who’ve never been to a small town and don’t know any better. I have a few “dirt road smarts” from traveling and staying with my family. But, that doesn’t really prepare me for living in a small town. I just want to acknowledge that. So, first I want to talk about what I’m getting. The less than ideal things, or challenging things that I’m about to encounter. These are just the ones I’m anticipating – I’m sure there will be more when I get there.
1) Even less job opportunities. Though unemployment is generally lower in small towns than in big cities, job opportunities that match my interests and experience will be more rare.
2) Less amenities. Internet and wireless service could be tricky – especially if I find a living situation that is outside of town in the country (which is what I’m really hoping for). If it snows, the plows might not be there for a while … or a long while if I’m out in the country. There are some things it will just be easier for me to learn to do myself in a pinch – like fixing plumbing or electric. It’s not that there aren’t ample resources available, but if I am living far from town, and it snows, and something breaks, I’m going to need to be self-reliant.
3) Less privacy. A lot of people think moving to the country will mean “getting away from it all,” including people. Guess what? That’s a lot easier to do in a city than in a small town. In a smaller community, the grocery cashier might learn my name. My neighbors might drop by. Everyone will know who I am, and develop an opinion about me (especially since my Cousin is a pretty well-known guy). The idea of this makes me wince just a little. But then I remember how much happier I am when I am a part of a community. That’s the dream, after all, right?
4) This isn’t going to be like my other trips to visit the farm. I’m going to have to work while I’m up there – possibly more than one job, depending on how things go. I’m not used to working when I’m in that part of the State. I associate it with relaxing and adventuring. I’m hoping moving there won’t be too much like getting a job on a cruise ship, which I’m sure would ruin cruises for me forever. (Okay, that’s a terrible analogy because I would never go on a cruise ship, but you get the idea). This isn’t a vacation. I’m moving there.
With all of those realities acknowledged, on to the good stuff…
Even if I’m overwhelmed by needing to be self-sufficient, and being hounded by new neighbors, and working a job that I find less than fulfilling, I will still be in a place that’s magical throughout.
For one thing, the remoteness is absolutely terrifying. In a wonderful way. If I’m lucky enough to live in a place outside of town, it will be the most alone I’ve been at one time, ever. I’m not talking about isolation from a community on a larger level. I’m talking about being alone at night, miles (or at least hundreds of yards) between me and someone else. The closest I’ve come to that would probably be solo camping in 6th grade, and even then my teachers were just one loud scream away. Every time I stayed on my Grandparents farm, or now when I stay on my Uncle’s farm, I’m with people. Usually lots of people. I’m far from being alone. I feel as though being alone in a farm house (most evenings, and some of the weekend) would relax me on a profound level, and allow me to be myself in a way I haven’t yet had the opportunity to do. At the very least, it would be something new and different.
I imagine watching the sunset on my own, and listening to all the noises of the insects and animals. Crickets, tree frogs, birds, and coyotes. And among the wildlife I might not hear: bats, bobcats, deer, opossum, and turtles. There are also rare mountain lions, and although they may not be quite that far North yet, black bear have been migrating up from Arkansas since a 1960s reintroduction project. Recently scientists have found native Missouri black bears that were not part of that project, but just hiding really well. So you never know.
I’m getting off topic. And I don’t even know if I will be able to find an affordable place to live outside of town. But in an ideal world, I would have that wonderful fear, and the shiver of bravery to look forward to.
Really, all the things I’m looking forward to are just things of the country. Quiet, caves, wildlife, rolling hills, winding roads, streams, ponds, fall color, flowers, and laundry drying on the line. Stuff I might pin. For me, because I’m lucky enough to have beloved family there, there is also laughter, stories, digging through old photographs, canning projects, family antiques, and the best pie in the world. Of all good things listed here, these are just the ones I’m anticipating – I’m sure there will be more when I get there.
One of the things I’m looking most forward to is the presence of stars. I feel like I used to see more stars in St. Louis. But I’ve been looking for months, and have barely seen any. And this is during a drought. When visiting my family farm during recent years, I’ve been having bad luck – always arriving during a cloudy season. I miss the stars! I need a chance to get acquainted with them. From my family farm, they also claim to occasionally see the Northern Lights, which would be such a treat.
Epilogue: While writing this post, I took a break to go outside of my current St. Louis home to listen to the cicadas, crickets and wildlife here. While sitting on the ground, a rabbit ran right by me, less than a foot away. How often does that happen?