This is a blog about what it’s like to live in rural Georgia. For a city girl, I might add. This is the first I’ve lived in a rural area, and there are parts of it that are thoroughly and awesomely beautiful and wonderful. And there are parts that are not. Today I’m concentrating on the not-so-thrilling parts because that’s the kind of mood I’m in. Now, if you grew up in a rural area, none of this is going to be all that difficult to deal with and you’ll consider the possibility that I’m a whiney citified sissy. Build a bridge and get over it. This is my blog and I’ll whine if I want to. (Alternatively, you could tell me that I’m here and might as well make the best of it—or, in other words, “Ann, build a bridge and get over it.” Words to live by.)
Distance. That’s the big thing. It’s so freaking far to anywhere. I grant you, it’s 25 or so miles to Wal-Mart. That is an extremely good thing, except when I need kitty litter right this minute. And 12 miles to the nearest grocery story (the “Baby Pig”) or 25 miles (the “Big Pig”) doesn’t sound so bad, until you consider it takes an hour or more to get a half-gallon of milk and a cup of sugar (and don’t even think the word organic). This requires that I must plan ahead and remember everything on my list. I can do these things, but I prefer to “wing it.” A doctor’s visit? Might as well take the whole day off. Fresh vegetables? Well, if you want “grown in China with unknown pesticides on them,” sure, they’re available. Otherwise, only in the freezer section of the Baby Pig. What it boils down to is choice—I have limited choices, and I don’t like any of them. I could drive an hour to find what I want—but at what cost? Sure the lettuce is organic and fresh at the CSA in Savannah, but it would take a regular commitment to take how many hours out of my life, how many gallons of gas? It’s a trade-off I’m not willing to make, but I still miss having the choice.
People. I miss the diversity of people. The people in my neighborhood are, by and large, gracious, friendly, intelligent people—I just want more of them. I find the crush of humanity (within limits) to be reassuring, comforting. Sirens in the night are not something to be feared, they’re something to be grateful for (that we have rescue personnel who make it their life’s business to rescue those of us unfortunate enough to need them). Yes, more people means more crime and more “bad” people—but it also means more energy, more of a sense of being alive. Kind of like living through the Titanic disaster (the actual event, not the movie)—a bonding with those you have something in common with. And in a city, you can always find people with whom you have things in common. If today I want to wear frog pajamas in public, I can Google “frog pajamas” and find a support group of like-minded people all ready to be my new, albeit temporary, friends. (Maybe not literally—I don’t own any frog pajamas—but I hope you get my drift. And if you don’t, well, I could find a group who does. If I were in a city, which I’m not.)
Bugs, spiders and snakes. Okay, I know there are bugs in cities—roaches and the like. But most of them don’t bite. I’m tired of bugs that bite, the smell of bug spray in the morning, itching all summer long, checking for ticks in my increasing number of nooks and crannies. I’m tired of looking out for spiders and snakes when I head outside to garden. I’m tired of paying an exterminator to come and poison all the critters than wander inside, and worrying about what those poisons do to me (but not worrying so much that I want to live with those same critters in my house). This does have a good side—the raccoon who has taken to visiting our back deck at about 6:30 every evening. I find he’s cute and adorable; Elliott sees a monster who chews nails, spits out roofing tiles, and is capable of creating a site of nuclear destruction in our attic. Balanced, we keep our distance and hope he keeps his.
And don’t even think about extolling the presumed wonderfulness of Spanish moss. This is what it might look like to you, all romantic and wafty breezes:
And this is what it looks like to me, all smothery and scary, killing the grass underneath when it falls. And where does it all come from, anyway?
Coffee bars and gyms. I miss going and sitting in a café where I don’t know anybody, just sipping my coffee and watching people, an anonymous woman of mystery (or so I like to pretend). I miss going to the gym to work out (and yeah, yeah, I know it’s gorgeous to run in my neighborhood). I just talked myself out of a triathlon because I have no place to train for a 1.5 mile swim, and I’m not young enough or stupid enough to think I can do that without training. Whine, whine, whine, I know. If these are the worst problems I can come up with, I’m pretty darn lucky. Which I am, and I know it. Privileged, one might even say.
Mostly trivial and superficial stuff, I accept that. But there’s that undefinable sense that some place is “home.” It’s been four years plus, and I haven’t found it here yet. I’m trying to make it home, but like a bulb forced to flower out of season, it’s a continual effort.
Whine, whine. See that half-constructed bridge over there? Rather than seeing it as a bridge to nowhere, maybe it’s a magical door to someplace called home. Maybe. I’m creeping my way towards it.