I have lived in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains for the past 18 years. In the country. I am accustomed to the sounds of the country. Birds, frogs, crickets, katydids, rain on a tin roof, a babbling creek, the occasional chainsaw, tractor or 4-wheeler. The view outside of my window was of a beautiful pine forest nestled in the valley between two hazy, blue, mountains. My road was a dirt road, winding its way up the side of a mountain. Living in the mountains, the temperature during the summer months was always 10 degrees cooler due to the elevation.
Now? I live in the city.
It’s early morning, summer, hot. I am waiting for the library to open. I stay in my car because it is already sweltering outside. As I sit in the middle of metro Louisville, surrounded by tall buildings and skyscrapers, I listen to the sounds of the city. I see an interstate highway out of the driver side window. It is morning rush hour. The sound is deafening. Out of the passenger window, there is a construction site. Cranes, jackhammers, air-nailers. Noise. The city.
There are apartment buildings across the parking lot. People eating, sleeping, brushing their teeth, having their morning coffee. Do they sit by the window and look out on what I am seeing and think, “What a beautiful view”? There are television shows that spotlight people buying apartments or “condos”, just another word for “expensive apartment”. If you share a wall with someone, I am sorry, but you live in an apartment. I am constantly amazed when they look out of the window of an apartment in a city like Paris or New York, overlooking miles and miles of busy streets and concrete structures and proclaim, “Oh, what a fabulous view”! What do they see? Are the buildings their mountains, the streetlights their trees and the fountains their waterfalls? Are the lights atop of the tall buildings their stars? Is this their “country”?
Who is to say which is better? It seems that many people who have grown up in the country can’t wait to leave and live in the city; and people that have grown up in the city, want to live in the country and get “back to the earth”. Is it our search for a new perspective that incites us to desire that which we have not yet experienced?
My husband HATES the city. Is hate too strong a word? Not in his case. I don’t think that there is anything that he finds enticing about living in the city. In his words, he doesn’t want to live any place that you can’t “pee off the porch” without the neighbors seeing. He grew up in Cleveland. Point proven.
I don’t mind the city so much. I find that beauty can be found in unexpected places, if you are willing to search it out. Is the intricate beauty of Victorian architecture not a rival to the delicacy of Queen Anne’s Lace growing in a field; Or the dazzling colors of the flowers and trees of a well landscaped yard comparative to the pink beds of mountain laurel in the springtime?
There are things that I miss about living in the country, but there are also things that I don’t miss. The seclusion, a thirty minute drive to get anywhere, dirt roads, wood soot, no plays, music or art.
A friend told me once, “It takes all kinds of people to make up the world”. I think that can be said for places, as well. And maybe, we are just infatuated with what we don’t have, grass being greener on the other side of the fence?
City vs. Country…you tell me?