Thursday, October 01, 2009

Farm Girl, City Girl

The view from my parent's front porch

I grew up out in the country. My family moved from our red brick house on a quiet street to an 80 acre span of hillside 5 miles outside of our small rural town when I was 11 years old. Growing up on a hill surrounded by fields was a wonderful experience. I'd hop off the bus and walk home, then go exploring the countryside with Sherman and Betsy, the world's two best dogs. In the fall if my mom needed an onion for a recipe, it was only a matter of grabbing one from a nearby field. In the summertime I'd awaken to the sound of crop duster planes flying close to our house. On my then-tween little sister's birthday, we sang karaoke late into the night without any worry of neighbors being disturbed. Although the situation turned my mom into a 24 hour taxi service into town, the advantages of the peaceful country life had me convinced that was what I wanted in the future.

Me and my roommate Anica on the balcony of our apartment in Spain, 2001

This conviction was challenged when I spent six months abroad in Spain. Although the city I was living in wasn't a metropolis, it was large and compact. I learned that what the city lacked in space it made up for in accessibility and culture. Within a half of a block of my apartment I had access to a bread store, coffee shop, candy store, and park. I spent hours walking the streets of the city, stopping occasionally to sit with the old men at the train station or to drink a glass of peach juice at a cafe while people-watching. Every open space was shared, and I never felt more social.

When Leonard and I became serious, we'd talk a lot about our future. What would life be like after school? Who would be in charge of the dishes? What would work be like? But most of our conversations settled around the question, Where would we live? I tried to convince Leonard to live in a city, at least for a few years. I even tried talking him into applying to P.A. schools in New York City but it just wasn't his thing. So I painted a picture of life in the country, with chickens and an overabundant garden. He'd be fine with that, just unsure if it would work out right away. "What about the suburbs?" he'd say. "We'd be close to things, but still have a nice yard, and our kids could have friends nearby." I'd suddenly get a case of the 'dry heaving because the thought of that disgusts me' attacks. Leonard would smile, and we'd move on to musing over whether our firstborn would have dimples or facial hair. For me, future home location was either city or country, black or white. I wasn't open to anything in between.

A chilly fall morning in the 'burbs

We now live in the suburbs. In the most suburby of subdivisions in the first and largest suburb of a not so large city. We live on a street where mailbox stands are shared between neighbors, and if the weeds in your lawn get out of control you get a friendly notice in the mail. But we also live 5 minutes from work and just a short trip to the nearest Costco. Walks around the neighborhood result in a minimum of three conversations with people who are also out and about. Neighbors are more than happy to lend their tall ladder or give a cup of sugar when needed. Afternoons are filled with people riding bikes and the sound of kids playing basketball. I still occasionally dream of skyscrapers and chickens, but I've come to learn that maybe I am a Suburb girl after all.

4 comments:

Molly said...

Don't mind me, I'm just over here 'dry heaving because the thought of that disgusts me'.

Don't get me wrong, I'm SOOOO totally glad you've become so complacent. I could NEVER do it.

No offense! Loves!

megan said...

I think it's adorable that you have a roommate Molly, and in Utah too!

You are so cute!!!

Molly said...

I learned it from watching you.

Anica said...

Oh I miss our days in Spain!! Love your posts, you are too cute. You're neighborhood sounds great. Glad you guys are happy!