Wednesday, November 14, 2007

City Mouse vs.Country Mouse

I got to talk to many people over the last few days. The likes of which I don't encounter on a daily basis. I talked to several poets, a children's playwright, yoga teachers, a collage artist, painters, jewelers, literature buffs. The energy from these connections made me a little giddy. People who understand me! They get it. I don't even need to explain myself.

I spoke with one woman, a native of Philadelphia who now lives in Lancaster City, at length and told her that I lived in Reinholds. I must have sighed when I said it. She said it sounded as though I didn't want to live there. I shrugged. She said didn't know exactly where Reinholds was but that it sounded very small and very Republican. I had to laugh. She was right on all counts.

I confessed to her that I just didn't feel I fit in with the village. (Yes, Reinholds is actually called the village of Reinholds.) I long to be where the culture is. Give me art galleries, quaint coffee shops, a theater (plays), some restaurants with interesting foreign cuisine and live music, a wine store with some variety, a nearby yoga studio. I want a good library and an independently owned bookstore. I want to attend university lectures and concerts. I want to participate in some of the adult education at our church. (Now at a 35 min drive, it isn't always easy to plan.) I want to talk to artists and poets on a regular basis, not just when I come out of hiding.

And I want all this stuff for my kids, too, along with easy access to the things they want to participate in. Right now we travel for my son's fencing lessons, my daughter's dance and theater. Nothing is in our own school district. While we have said that we wanted to wait until they are out of school--no need to uproot them, to decide on a new place to live, I can't help but think that we are doing them a disservice by living here. No wonder suburban kids try drugs. There's nothing else to do!

This vision of living in a place of culture conflicts with another of my dreams: to live in the middle of nowhere--the woods perhaps, in a simple house that we build from a kit with our own modifications. Somewhere I can commune with the natural world. A loft area where the kids can sleep. A great room with furniture that can be moved out of the way to accommodate workshops or big bashes or screenings of independent films or even hosting an art show. A great working kitchen--not a fancy schmancy one that is bought for status--but a workhorse. A separate garage with a studio above it. A deck with a nice view. A little roofed outbuilding for meditation. Clean lines, black framed windows, opened spaces, white walls, enough technology to make my husband happy, renewable energy. I guess in this scenario, I envision culture coming to us in the form of guests and teachers and students and Netflix.

So how do I morph these two visions: one cosmopolitan and one pastoral? I don't know. Maybe I should found an arts neighborhood in the middle of some forest near a metropolis. Yeah! that's it!

My gratitude for today is for Netflix. I can finally see the movies I want to see! We used to have to travel to Philadelphia to see independent or foreign films. And that went by the wayside when the kids were young. We tried to get movies from Blockbuster, but they seemed to specialize movies. So I am happy I can get some culture delivered to my door here in the Village of Reinholds!


Lilymane said...

Jill - I COMPLETELY understand the pull of these two dreams. I long to build a cob house with my own two hands on some coastal cliff and yet, I know that moving this summer to the middle of a small, progressive little town right close to a big city with loads of professional/cultural opportunities was the best move we could have made. For me or the kids. For now.

The web helps but it is still quite a trick to get the best mix of nature/solitude and community/culture. I wish you the best of luck finding the perfect balance! Peace.

Diahn said...

When you find that perfect rural-urbane place, let me know. I have a great desire to live on 20 acres next to a really small town that happens to have art museums, cultural events, blah blah blah...

But, instead, I am here in suburbia surrounded by Wal-Marts and 3 dozen other houses that look just like mine...