I’ve mentioned before that I am a transplanted city girl. No rural background. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I am so “city” that it is at times downright comical. When I moved from Montreal to Calgary years ago, I’d heard tell of “Cow town” and pictured horse drawn carriages, farms and quaint corner stores with benches outside, women sipping lemonade while exchanging stories. As I flew over parcel after parcel of flat prairie land I imagined how I might fit in with my new scene, clips of Little House on the Prairie running through my mind. I was, therefore, extremely surprised to suddenly see great big buildings and bright city lights as we began our descent into Calgary.
Calgary was not at all what I’d expected when I randomly picked a place off the map and decided to move. Nonetheless, it did feel very ‘small town’ as compared to Montreal where I’d grown up and spent most of my life. Granted it’s grown over the years, but it still feels very much like a “new” city. It didn’t have the charm, in my opinion, that a small city sometimes claims though. I found the anonymity and transience difficult to adjust to, having been used to knowing neighbours who’d not only lived in the same areas for years, their parents and grandparents had too. And I missed the cultural identity that a city only develops over a long period of time.
Anyway, when we moved to the Special Areas- a couple of years back now- the adjustment from city to rural life was even more pronounced than my transition from East to West. Don’t get me wrong- I feel more “at home” than I have anywhere else in my life. I think I was meant to be country all along. But there are hiccups along the way, and it’s a learning process with a steep curve.
I don’t understand what people are talking about a lot of the time, though I nod my head in agreement and make “mmhmm” noises at what I feel are the appropriate intervals. I had to ask Shane today what on earth a “quarter of beef” is- i.e. exactly how big is that? Half my freezer apparently. Interesting. And I’m not used to iron in my water, or traveling to the store, or places being closed evenings and Sundays… I resent that I have to pay more for less variety in groceries, and don’t understand how local women picked up on the eighties trend of “big bangs” but no trends thereafter… I’ve adjusted to the fact that when a utility goes down, there’s no sense in calling it in- it’ll be fixed when it’s fixed- but I’m still a little indignant that my monthly bills don’t at least buy me the right to complain when I can’t access my internet, or power.
I’m not very domestic either. It’s a stretch. I don’t like cleaning, or dishes, or laundry. I used to say that “I’m a professional, a microbiologist” as if to explain why I couldn’t possibly take care of a home as well. It made sense- to me at least. But now I’m not only a domestic diva by necessity, I’m having to learn about all sorts of things that are complete foreign to me- gardening, water treatment, harvesting wild yeast (a feat I still haven’t mastered). I am completely out of my comfort zone.
Sometimes I miss what seemed a simpler life in the city. Like today. I’ve pulled a new muscle in my back and am pretty much useless so I’ve had time to notice that my hair is a disaster, and my nails are beyond reproach. I don’t remember the last time I had the opportunity to muse over which shoes I should pull from my collection to go with a particular outfit. Ah, my shoes… My beautiful, beautiful girls. I don’t even know where I’ll put them in the new house. Maybe I should be considering building a separate home just for them. I can visit them if nothing else.
And occasionally I am seized by a moment of panic as we move deeper into a ‘natural’ existence, one more in tune with the planet and our surroundings. I can’t remember what Shane was suggesting the other day but my reaction was immediate, “I don’t want to live like a hobo!” He laughed, but I was serious… “It’s not nearly as romantic as it sounds,” I tried to explain but he was already onto other things. Sigh. I’m going to miss hot water on demand in our new home, and limitless electricity. Sometimes I think Shane could live in a cave and be happy, me- not so much.
Now before anyone gets up on their hind legs (I’ve been dying to use that expression), I am not ungrateful. Nor do I really wish that I were anywhere else. Most of the time. I love the freedom that rural life offers, the ability to be self-sustaining, to not feel the deep-seated but unidentified guilt that comes with mindless consuming and working to feed the corporate world. I love the fact that I can work outside in my underwear, and that I can hear someone coming from a mile away so have time to get dressed again before unexpected company arrives. I love the two finger wave that drivers give each other upon passing, and the fact that traffic means more than one vehicle on the road. I love the careful consideration that comes with knowing you will see someone again, and can’t just flip them off if the mood strikes. I very much appreciate the fact that growing our own food makes us less susceptible to the hardships that will surely accompany upcoming food shortages. I could go on- I know in my heart that I belong here and that we are doing the right thing. Our lifestyle is more attuned with our values and priorities than ever before, and continues to align itself even more closely with every day.
Just sometimes I miss the little things that city life had to offer. Good hair and shoe shopping.