Here it is, the second installment of neurotic observations from an urbanite transplanted to a small town.
Fall is here, and I’m not sure how that happened. Steeped in a new job and locale, my learning curve has kept me busy, but it feels like things are starting to slow down. Or maybe it’s that I’m finally gaining a better hold on the whirlwind of happenings out here.
Town is emptier, which has pros and cons for someone who finds safety in numbers, yet seeks solace in the quiet of nature. Less traffic on the road is perhaps the biggest bonus for me, as driving on a regular basis is a new endeavor. While left turns are somewhat of a challenge, my trepidation in making them has abated slightly. Also, I’m amazed that I have the confidence to drive and park a truck (yes, it still makes me laugh that I have one). The way people talk about winter out here — which is a source of alarm — I’m thinking practice sessions will be in order so that I can drive that sucker into the city, and parallel it for the weekend.
When people hear that this will be my first winter here, their reaction is mixed. “The first one isn’t so bad; it’s the third one that really kills you,” a well-intended adviser joked. Others talk about how much they love it when no one else is here.
My take-away thus far is that I’m going to have to create a list of activities to keep me busy, and make sure that standing at the end of a bar isn’t one of them. Accustomed to living in a place where yelling outside my apartment window at 3 a.m. isn’t an unusual occurrence, the boarded-up store windows and desolate feeling in town is starting to freak me out. The change of seasons might play into it, but whatever it is, I definitely have an eerie feeling.
There was a recent flurry of activity lately with the film festival and other social events. Like in the city, you have to make some kind of effort to have stuff going on. Granted, walking out of my apartment into the East Village practically guarantees instant entertainment. One of my favorite aspects of the city is watching characters (myself formerly included) interact and try to one-up each other. The natural banter between New Yorkers is its own form of performance art.
Lately, I’ve been missing that. But, rest assured, there is no dearth of a-touch-of-crazy out here, it just manifests itself in a decidedly different way.
A friend from my old neighborhood recently moved here full time to a house around the corner from the farm where I live. The first time we met up, he devised a plan for weekly get-togethers. Thrilled to have an accomplice close by who also has that city wit, my winter dread is less consuming, at least for now.
As for farm life, there was a goat slaying on the farm a month ago. It didn’t have a name, and my housemate and his brother took care of business on an afternoon when I was thankful not to be around. They put the goat meat in the dehydrator, and my housemate tried to trick me into tasting it by telling me it was a plantain. And for a second (he doesn’t know this until now) he almost got me.
A few days later, I received a text from another housemate telling me not to let the dogs out until after noon — there was a goat head in the driveway. Wow. Not exactly the kind of text message a city girl usually gets. Needless to say, the dogs and I stayed inside until the late afternoon.
While I’m better adjusted to the different types of noises out here, the thought of staying alone on the farm fills this city girl with dread. My housemates were away a few weeks ago with the dogs, and I had no choice but to face it. A friend came over for dinner the first night and helped me secure the house. She jumped on the Bilco doors to close them, and there I was, wishing I had a country girl’s know-how.
Everyone insisted I was safer here than in the city, but the urbanite in me knows better. It is the absence of people that causes alarm, not more of them.
Perhaps this will change over the next couple of months as the “shoulder season” comes to a close, and there are even fewer people around. For now, this city girl is about to embark on a new decade, clutching a container of eye cream. This fall, I’ll attempt to make the most of country living by doing all the leaf-stomping I can.
Heather Dubin is a reporter at The Star.