Monday, July 9, 2012
Why this place?
You see, I live in a small, quiet town in the middle of Nebraska roughly 80 miles from my place of employment. It's not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from here. My little town is a 'farming community' which doesn't exactly mean what might be inferred.
It used to be that a farming community was a town where family farmers could go to do their banking and buy tractor parts or seed. A farming community was where they kept the bar and the post office and possibly the sheriff's office if you were lucky enough to be at the county seat.
Most of that stuff is still here, but some of the soul has gone out of the place. A lot of the store fronts downtown are empty. Many of them have fallen into disrepair and some are possibly beyond repair without a big injection of cash.
There isn't much of that around here anymore either.
Personally? I blame many things for the slow and painful decline of this little town.Generally speaking, many of the kids in these small towns are chomping at the bit to get out as soon as humanly possible. Very few of them have any intention or desire to take over where their father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and in some cases, great-great grandfather left off. No, mostly they stick around long enough to graduate high school and head off to the big city to college or whatever else their life holds in store.
Farm economy and government intervention has done little to help the family farm even exist much less thrive. The arrival of corporate farms in the 80's certainly didn't help much. Many folks got out of farming either willingly or by force. Those were dark times indeed.
No. Things are definitely not what they were when my grandfather farmed his land on the edge of town. But I digress.
With all of that in mind, my husband and I moved from the city to this rural space about 6 years ago. A lifelong city kid, my husband longed to live in the country. He dreamt of a farm for the two of us to live out our lives together. A place where the kids and grand kids could come and enjoy the peace and quiet.
A little slice of heaven, as it were.
That's where the 'nutjob' part comes in. Why in heaven's name would someone with a good job in the city move lock, stock and tea kettle out to the boonies? Why would she move so far away that her commute takes three hours out of every work day? I actually had a couple of reasons.
First of all is family. My Dad grew up here and lives in the next town over. There are dozens of people here who knew him, went to school with him, knew my grandparents, and knew my Dad's seven siblings. There are generations of my kin buried in the local cemetary. Living in a place like this gives one a sense of history. It gives me a feel for my roots. It makes me wonder if that's what it's like living in another country with a longer history than this one has. A sense of place is, I think, necessary for good mental health.
Secondly, I grew up in a small town that is actually a bit bigger than this one. After 30 years in the city, I had had enough of the hustle and bustle and constant noise of living in a densely populated area. The car alarms, the traffic and the thousands of people rushing about at all hours are nerve-wracking. The hoodlums (yes, I said HOODLUMS) vandalizing and stealing whatever they can at all hours of the day or night in front of God and everybody instilled a constant thread of fear in me. The nightly news consistently filled me with dread. The city went from a place where I felt relatively safe on my own when I first moved there to a place where I wouldn't walk alone after dark. It became a constant source of stress, a place of little sleep and a place of zero sanity. I spent the last few years making sure to lock myself inside my house for fear of home invasion. I remember one particular night standing stock still and terrified in my bedroom closet listening to what sounded like gunfire outside my home and my husband stood near the front door with his deer rifle peering out into the night.
Here there is peace. Here there is room to stretch out your legs on the porch and sip tea in the evening. Here, I can walk the 5 blocks to the grocery store after dark and not worry about being accosted or even if I left the garage door open. Here, even if they don't personally know who you are, everyone waves as you walk or drive past. Here was my chance to live my own dream and possibly create the foundation of my next career...a retirement gig of sorts.
This is where I find myself at mid life wondering what's next. I'm still figuring that part out but I am fairly certain there will be chickens involved.