Do you ever find yourself scanning real estate on the internet for that perfect little farmhouse where you can leave your insane city life behind? You can grow a vegetable garden, have a cow as a BFF and never answer an email, text or endure another team meeting again?
Yeah, me too. I went so far as to actually move to the country. And here I am, eight years later, in the country. Still. And I only wish that someone had told me a few things before I decided to turn from city mouse to country mouse.
1. You will never have food delivered to your house again. This is sad. I know. I thought I should tell you right up front in case it’s a deal breaker. Sometimes a kind neighbor will bring over extra vegetables from their garden. This is as close to food delivery as it gets.
2. You will run outside for airplanes. In cities you never notice airplanes and helicopters because they are constantly flying overhead. But in the country an airplane flying over your house is an event. You will be eating dinner, hear a noise, look at your loved ones and yell “Airplane!” Then you will all run outside and watch the airplane go by. It’s kind of like living on a deserted island but the airplane never comes to rescue you.
3. Spiders. They’re everywhere. After a while, one will crawl on you and you won’t even flinch.
4. You will complain about small amounts of traffic. When you first move to a small town you will be delighted by the absence of traffic, but after a while something happens and will get annoyed when there’s even a single car ahead of you at a stop sign.
5. You will love the big horse. A friend of mine lives in a small town in Montana where a large horse comes on “tour” every summer. People line up to see how big this horse actually is. When my friend first moved there she looked down her city nose at the people who waited in line just to see a horse. But then, three years later, my friend was in that line. That is a good sign. If this happens to you, do not fear. It does not mean you are becoming stupid. It means that you are becoming less jaded. Your heart is opening up to all the various wonders of life.
6. You will talk about chickens. There is more than one type of chicken and you will find yourself in deep discussions about the various nuances of different breeds. Where once you talked about Jackson Pollack and Georgia O’Keeffe, now your conversations will be peppered with Barred Rocks and Leghorns.
7. You will discover how capable you are. If a tree falls in the middle of a city street, people will quickly arrive in uniforms to fix it. If a tree falls across your driveway in the country, you are the one that fixes it. And you don’t have a uniform. Or a chainsaw. Or gloves even. You just have a useless degree in Art History and a pair if expensive ski gloves from your last trip to Whistler. Fortunately you have strong arms considering all the hours you’ve put it at your trendy city hot yoga class.
8. You will wear overalls. Non-ironically. They will not be paired with hipster eyewear and chunky heels, but instead with rain boots and a knife.
9. You will terrify non-white people. Country life means there are white people as far as the eye can see. Big beefy ones. Whip skinny ones. Happy ones. Angry ones. But all white. All the time. You will miss a diverse culture so much that when spot another ethnicity in your grocery store, you will follow them around hoping they are in town to buy a house. When they finally warily look at you, you will flash a crazy smile that you hope is interpreted as “I’m not one of the evil white people. I just live in the country because I’ve made an unusual life choice. Let’s be friends!” Unfortunately, your smile will not be interpreted as that and you will scare this person out of the grocery and worse, out of the country forever.
10. Your children will think the world is their toilet. Your kids are so used to going to the bathroom in nature that they will be confused over what is actually considered “a bathroom”. You will only realize this when you take a trip to the city and find your child urinating in a fountain outside a museum.
11. You will have things in your refrigerator that look like this.
I won’t tell you what it is. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you. County surprises can be few and far between.
12. Weather will not be talked about as much as you think. The weather thing for country people? Been there, done that. Besides, there are other more interesting things to talk about. Like chickens, for example.
13. You will not like country music or have a mullet hair cut. Because that’s not you. You’re moving to the country, not getting a lobotomy. (Okay, okay, some country music is good, but mullet hair cuts should be legally banned.)
14. You will miss the city. And that’s okay. I’ve lived in Miami, New York and Los Angeles and I miss them all for different reasons. But they’re always there for me and when I go back to visit it’s like seeing an old friend that I still love, but I just don’t have that much in common with anymore.
15. You will watch the sunset. A lot of them. Sure, you watched sunsets in the city, but not all the time. But a country sunset raps you on the shoulder and says, “I will not be ignored.” And for good reason, they are majestic.
16. You will love parades. Half the town is in the parade, the other half watches. The next year, everybody switches.
17. Your car will be ugly. The whole purpose of your city car was to impress people. The whole purpose of your country car is to be as hearty and functional as you are now. Your car will always have a Mad Max level of dirt on it and the inside will be filled with things that seem like you’re preparing for an apocalypse — rope, matches, hay, dried fruit and nuts, jugs of water, animal feed, sometimes even animals — and this is a great thing. Because cars should be functional and not an item you’ve over-spent on to try and show the world you’re rich and important. That’s just crazy…. city crazy…
18. You will not regret moving. Oh sure, at times you will regret it. In the beginning. You will hear about a gallery opening or a play or a new restaurant or a party that you’re missing in the city and you will look around at all your quiet and start to tear your hair out. But listen to that quiet. Because inside that quiet is you. All that time you were searching online for that perfect little farmhouse? Well, you were actually searching for yourself and the city is sometimes just too distracting for that journey. Remember, Thoreau went into the woods, not into the subway.
And you will find exactly what you are looking for – you - out here, in the country.
Along with spiders.