Before the coronavirus raised its ugly head and scared everyone away from the city, I lived there part-time while I taught at a local university. Earlier this year though, I boxed and taped my city underwear and moved back to the farm permanently. According to Allied Van Lines making moves and changing locations is not that unusual. On average, most people change their address 11 times during a lifetime. My mother, who’s less a rolling stone and more a streaking comet, moved nine times within a five-year period. The majority of moves we make are local though, from an apartment to a house in the same town, for example.
But people in my age group, the baby boomers, are the least likely of any demographic to make a big move.
Generally, older adults have finally paid the mortgage off and are unwilling to take on any new debt, especially house loans. And if they do change homes, they want to live closer to town, not further away. They want to be nearer goods and services, and especially medical facilities as they age.
None of those issues mattered to me when I decided to move back full-time to the farm. I’d become fatigued of sitting in lines of hot cars at traffic lights. The charm of living among hundreds of interesting and colorful people was spent. The evening before I moved out of town, I watched Rocketman, a biopic about classic rocker, Elton John. The next day packing boxes, I found myself singing one of Elton’s songs: “So goodbye yellow brick road, where the dogs of society howl, you can’t plant me in your penthouse, I’m going back to my plough…”
The farm does have plows, which means work, so country living has not always been my panacea. For twenty years after marrying a farmer I plied, if not plowed the land. During that time I often walked field roads dreaming of city streets and city lights. I’d become a hay seed, but I longed to make hay in the big city. I couldn’t shake wonderful memories of being a college coed in a big city back east where I grew up. I loved the city parks with their beautiful fountains of sculptured winged gods spouting water. Down the boulevard were magnificent museums and large libraries, repositories of learning.
I finally got the chance to leave the farm once my children were raised, and I became a university professor.
I moved into my little part-time apartment in the biggest city around: Boise, Idaho, population 226,570. It wasn’t the Big Apple but it was a fairly large potato. When I made that move a farm girlfriend of mine asked me, “What does the city have that the country doesn’t–besides shopping?”
I thought (but didn’t say): you plebeian! A country girl could never understand the excitement, the energy, of so many people working and thinking and creating, in one big, buzzing place. Even Michelangelo said, “I have never found salvation in nature. I love cities above all.”
But I came to discover my plebeian friend had a point. Though cultural centers too, for most people cities are basically shopping meccas. In terms of daily living, this is their biggest draw and greatest drawback. I soon found I had only so much time and money to spend in big box stores buried in concrete canyons.
Another friend, Donna, said, “Won’t you be bored living out on the farm again?”
Maybe. But I’m beginning to understand the upside of boredom, how it motivates you to engage with all the little things you missed before, like the litter of kittens out by the barn. Besides, every day’s not meant to be a bell-ringer. If you can’t stand the lethargy of time, you’ll die young—or at least sooner from rushing about so much.
So, it could be I moved back to the farm to save my life—or savor it. Really it doesn’t matter. If I’m honest, it’s how you live, not where you live that matters.
Early this morning, when it was still dark, I opened the door to my back patio. I heard the river rushing past, and when I looked up, I saw a spray of stars in the sky. Mornings on the farm are the best.