My fiancé and I have spent the last month more or less constantly engaged in the task of moving. At a certain point, all of my materials were packed, and with no working space to speak of, that other occupation that's always tugging at my mind on some level, my dissertation, actually had to take a nap for about a week and a half.
It's awake again, and it woke up cranky, but I don't want to talk about that at the moment. I just wanted to pause on this decision that I landed on with surprising ease: I've moved from a little river town, where I could walk to coffee, pizza, yoga, or my favorite donuts currently on earth, to the country. Now we live on a rural route, in a place that uses oil heat (we're still navigating the complex policies of the company that will come fill our tank) and doesn't have a mailbox to speak of (we're getting friendly with the very agreeable local postmaster).
The rent is lower, the insurance is cheaper, and our combined commutes are cut in half (though I got the less advantageous portion of that deal - oh, well - that's why God gave us podcasts). My advisor had shared his opinion that it is "healthy to live in the country." But mostly I'm just excited to have lots and lots of space (compared to our last place, at least), to be able to comfortably do some canning before the season is quite gone (better get on that!), not to be booted out of the study, where all my books and pens and papers are, for however many totally useless lost days whenever we have a guest come to stay, and generally to find a sense of making a life. That last bit might flow from the others, but there's also something nebulous about it, an idea I picked up somewhere (never having lived anywhere before that could be described - even in my licentious way, as now - as 'the country').
The idea is that a rural life opens avenues of independence not available to those more closely hemmed in by the other humans. And it's a sweet idea, and nice to hold on to - I get the sense that it might be the kind of thing that will prove true directly in proportion to how earnestly one believes it.
But now that I'm past "moving" to the country, and I've starting just "living" there, I'm beginning to realize the difference between the pro- and con-list version of life as it's possible to understand it before a move, and the realities that take on shape and color after having moved. So here's my list, so far, of the shapes that have been appearing in my life:
a bear (a small black one) that I saw crossing the road near our house. I realized that despite having grown up in Wisconsin, and the images that that conjures in the minds of my east coast friends, this was my first time seeing a bear outside of a zoo.
a pie that I made with the first apples of the season last weekend, on our first full day off in the assembled house.
the ugly floors - covered in oatmeal-colored carpet and linoleum - that I'm impatient to cover with rugs, but that also remind me that we have that much open floor space now, space, if I choose to think of it this way, in which to move and breathe.
the spiders that have been biting me during the night these last couple nights - a problem I recognize from my old apartment in Madison, and am ready to move on right away, not waiting until my legs are covered in scars this time.
the morning chill that comes in through the partly-opened windows, and, combined with a very hot shower, always makes me think of camp in the north woods.
the stout, oddly-shaped, shingle-sided post office, where we have a PO Box, and my curiosity to see whether the inflow of wedding gifts with their corresponding package slips will begin to annoy the friendly postmaster.
9:30 on the clock before I leave the house, a sight I'd never see at the old place - I only took a few minutes off my commute, but my mornings now feel luxurious and full of potential.