City Mouse, Country Mouse

The other day my mom rang me up from Australia and we had a very nice chat. I have been keeping her in the loop about possible farm jobs, and she laughed a little bit and referred to me as a “city girl.” I was a little miffed at first, but after doing some heavy thinking I realized she was right. I am a city girl. Sometimes. I really love going into a city center, walking around, ducking into cafes and restaurants, strolling through museums. There is significant value to be found in the cultural centers of this world, and I will always enjoy experiencing the unique pulsing of life that each city offers.

On the other hand, I have always loved being out in nature. As a matter of fact, I have my mother to thank for that. She started taking us hiking and camping when we were just babies, and it wasn’t long before we progressed to backpacking, kayaking, and various other outdoor adventures. I first met Andrew when I decided to go on a fundraising camping trip alone, out in Joshua Tree National Park. On our honeymoon in Hawaii we kayaked 16 arduous miles around the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. Many of my friends and family members have insinuated that I have become more “outdoorsy” because of Andrew. It is true that I spend more of my time doing these things now that we are together. Part of that is because it’s much more fulfilling for me to have a partner in crime, someone with whom I can share the adventure. I have never been much of a lone explorer. I blame this on my twin. It’s hard to be alone for a long time when you shared the womb with someone!

This dichotomy is something that Andrew tells me he loves about me. I can spend all day spelunking in a muddy cave in coveralls, and later that night get dolled up for a nice night out. Hi, my name is Micha, and I refuse to be pigeonholed. I listen to bluegrass, Dixie jazz, hip hop, indie rock, and more recently, dubstep. One day I loaf around the house in my fugg boots and ratty old sweatshirt, the next I’ll squeeze into some skinny jeans and wear hot pink lipstick to a bar. I like to read, I like to paint, and create things with my hands. I enjoy playing softball, ultimate frisbee, and practicing yoga. I also like to sit on my butt and watch a good movie from time to time.

Of course being married to Andrew has certainly affected me. Several people have noted that I am more mellow and laid back than I used to be. I will readily admit some of Andrew’s personality has rubbed off on me, and I’m grateful for this. I like to think of myself as a “recovering consumer.” There was a time, not so long ago, when I coveted fancy purses, bought many pairs of high heels, and loved taking trips to the mall so I could replenish my wardrobe with the newest (and most cheaply made) threads. I still enjoy a nice cashmere sweater, a well-constructed pair of boots, and high-quality makeup when the mood strikes. I am not completely reformed, and although I do intend on making my own shampoo soon, I won’t forsake all of my material possessions. Everything in moderation (including moderation!). Our road trip also changed me significantly. I don’t think of our trip as merely a fun vacation or second honeymoon. For me it really was a way to move father away from my consumer self, and become more comfortable with a simpler way of life.

I am reading Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, and came across this conversation he had with someone about his own road-trip back in the late 1970s:

“Your little spree sounds nice until you go back.”
“Don’t have to go back [to] who I was.”
“Can you get out of it?”
“I’ll find out. Maybe experience is like a globe—you can’t go the wrong way if you travel far enough…”
“You’ll end up where you started.”
“I’m working on who. Where can take care of himself.”

Exactly!

Many people are wondering where this desire to work on a farm is coming from. I don’t have any experience working on a farm. I wasn’t raised on a farm, or even anywhere near one. I have always been interested in animals and have volunteered many hours of my life working at nature centers and even a zoo. But never a farm. I am not hopelessly romantic about this lifestyle. I understand that it is going to be hard, exhausting physical labor. When I own my own farm someday, it will be emotionally and financially draining when things go wrong (which they will). What I do expect though, is to crash into my bed every night feeling like my hard work is meaningful. I will be truly satisfied knowing I am growing healthy, sustainable food for my family, friends, and neighbors.

When you work on a farm you don’t have time to peruse Craigslist, wondering what other exciting things are out there. Daily chores outdoors will provide a welcome respite from the constant barrage of information most people receive every minute on their phones, tablets, laptops. I’m not going to toss out my iPhone. But I vow not to keep it in my pocket, ready to distract me. Instead I will focus on the task at hand, and relish the moment when the seeds I planted first poke their sprouts out of the loam. My body will be tired, my muscles will be sore, but my spirit will be still with a calm serenity that is afforded only those who are satisfied with their life’s work.

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3 thoughts on “City Mouse, Country Mouse

  1. Blue Highways is such a great read. it is moving whether as a metaphor or physical interpretation. I instantly thought of it when y’all told me of your then upcoming adventure. glad to have read your musings and followed your trip, and moreso to continue reading of the impact its had.

  2. I am a city/country mouse too, all rolled up into one. Must be hereditary, like you said. Ask your mom about Aggie school and poor little me being woke up to muck cows at 4am after partying til 2 or 3, haha. Life is for living and pigeon holes are for pigeons. As for marriage, a solid one is created by two people who save each other in many ways…but always support and love each other. Keep living, writing, loving!
    xxoo

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