Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Country House and the Town House

When I was a kid, we lived on a farm. It was, by no stretch of the imagination, in the middle of nowhere. We lived just about four miles outside of town and on one of the only straight stretches of a major US highway.

This meant a few things for me. First of all, there was no one in my neighborhood, because there was no neighborhood. There was no riding my bike somewhere fun because people flew by our house at 80 miles an hour. It was just plain dangerous.

I watched shows like Sesame Street and the Cosby Show and longed for the density of the city. Where people were so surrounded by people that they couldn't help be near a friend.

I watched shows like The Torkelsons and Boy Meets World and I longed for suburban life with quiet roads and kids on bikes and scooters.

I watched shows like Little House on the Prairie and longed for a farm town where kids could run anywhere they wanted and not be in any danger.

I watched a lot of TV, I guess.

When I had Brynna, we lived in town. In a little house on a little court. It was a good place to ride a bike or a scooter, but there were no kids around. I never thought of it as unsafe, but I wouldn't have let Brynna run wild there, either.

She was only three when we moved to the World's Smallest Town. Here, we live in town, too. Except there are only like 20 houses in the whole town. We live in a pretty good spot for bike riding. And there are kids around us. There were kids next door that Brynna got along with pretty well, but they moved. There are a couple of boys up the street, though, and the next door kids just moved a couple of blocks, so when I can trust Brynna to leave our street, she can go see them. This is pretty much what I wanted as a kid.

She's too little right now, but in a few years, she'll be able to go anywhere in town. I'll say, "Be home before dark!" and she can go wherever, hang with other kids, whatever.

Except that now that I have what I wanted when I was little, I want what I had when when I was little. I don't know my neighbors and frankly, I don't know how to meet people who never seem to leave their house. I feel guilty when my grass gets more than a couple of inches long. I don't like to go outside and holler for Brynna because I'm worried that I'll disturb people.

And even though it's the World's Smallest Town and Brynna has a better chance getting kidnapped from a deserted isle, I still feel like I should make sure she's there every few minutes.

The thing is, now, I'd like to live in the middle of nowhere. Now, I'd like to be where the neighbors are half a mile away and I can holler as loud as I like. Where chasing butterflies or catching fireflies isn't a spectator sport, where home is a space all mine, not to be shared with anyone else.

Maybe someday I'll have room to roam. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy what I've got. I'm going to sit on my deck in the dark and look at the million stars that I can see because those 20 houses don't throw much of a glow. I'm going to listen to the waterfall across the street and the bats in the trees and the crickets in teh grass and enjoy the sounds of the country around me.

And someday, I'll have a little piece of nowhere all my own.


Wahkonananamama said...

"I don't know my neighbors and frankly, I don't know how to meet people who never seem to leave their house."

This. This this THIS. I'm right there with you. We know one set of next door neighbors and that's it. The only time people are out in our neighborhood is for nightly walks, which we never go on because my fiancé doesn't get home until 7 or 8 and we don't finish dinner until 8 or 9. And even then, the people we have met in passing have been icy to us when they find out we don't have kids and/or dogs.

It's a great neighborhood for raising kids, but the truth of it is that I grew up in the sticks on a dirt road, and I hate our house. It's too big, too McMansion, and all I want is an old white farmhouse that I can tinker with and have a big garden and lots of room for kids to run around. I'd rather choose isolation than look out my windows and see neighbors that I don't know who seem to not care about me.

Phew! That was a spiel. Sorry! :)

Mrs. Allroro said...

All sounded great until "bats in the trees"! Can you tell I've never lived in the country?

Jessi said...

Wahkonananamama - I have to admit that we don't exactly bubble around the 'hood, but we go out and walk a bit and we sit out on the deck a lot. Our next door neighbors speak and the rest of them, I wouldn't even recognize if I saw them somewhere else. There is a guy who lives up the street who helped me dig out my car during the last ice storm and he was really nice and we've spoken a few times since then, but that's it. Didn't people used to know their neighbors? It's perplexing.

Mrs. A - The great thing about bats in the trees is that they are super cool, all flapping around and killing mosquitoes, but they are also in the trees, which sort of keeps them out of the house.

Suze said...

I love knowing our neighbors (Except the cranky old lady we share a driveway with, but that's a whole nuther story)...and that's one reason we're staying in our 900 sq ft house and finishing the basement instead of trying to move somewhere we actually have enough space. Location, location, location!