Category Archives: city mouse becomes country mouse

Goodbye To All That ( Yes, I stole that from Joan Didion)

Hi! I’m Kelly and I’m so fucking lonely! (grabs ahold of your hand tightly) But don’t tell my husband! I picked this house out in the middle of nowhere and dragged my family to a faux brick colonial with 4 acres and Walden level tree coverage. It’s half a mile to my mailbox, where I get my contact with the outside world through Amazon. Yesterday my only social activity was yelling at dogs to stop barking at squirrels.
It wasn’t always like this. We lived in the city for twenty years! Raised three kids in a neighborhood where guys punched the air and screamed all night about those “sons of bitches!” There were robberies and assaults, terrible traffic, no parking and in the summer everything smelled like hot baked urine. I remember seething while suffering through one of the many daily endurance level gridlock moments, moving half an inch in an hour on 16th street, trying to squeak past triple parked bozos who loitered outside their vehicles to chat. Slapping my steering wheel, I vowed to never miss this slow, soul-sucking agony. Waving farewell to the parking tickets, the crime, the crowding, my leaky old federal row house, I was going to savor seeing this shit in my rearview mirror.

The first week in the woods was paradise. Crickets and frogs replaced roaring sirens. There was ample parking, a two car garage, we were spoiled for choice with multiple high-end grocery stores, and a fire pit where I could set everything I didn’t like ablaze. We bought hatchets, a leaf blower and several more weapon type outdoorsy things that made the Home Depot cashier play a round of ‘Outdoorsman or Serial Killer?’ in their head while they checked us out.

I don’t know if I can point to the exact moment things started to turn sour. Perhaps it was shortly after we started to get wildly thrilling jolts of middle-aged pleasure from scoring sick deals at the big box stores or when we began flagging down distant neighbors walking the lonely stretch of country road we live on to wave manically hoping for a return nod to quench our thirst for a dose of non-familial human contact.

Whenever it happened, it was a swift and powerful Kurtz, Heart of Darkness level descent into isolation and madness. Suddenly there were a thousand biblical level frogs on the driveway. Large angry spiders with mean faces and threatening looking stripes descended from the ceiling and spun six-foot webs in minutes. Deer ate everything and surrounded us on all sides. Foxes had awful sex parties all night in our back woods and screamed like porn stars on helium. The fresh hell of our tree-lined utopia was now clear. We were out of our element.

So, I’m sorry I’m holding your hand so firmly, with it clasped lovingly against my cheek, pouring out my heart, but I need this. I noticed you were wearing a smart Jil Sander smocklike garment with good shoes and I remembered this was the uniform of my people from long ago when I spent my days on concrete streets and my third child was afraid of grass on his bare feet because he had no idea what it was until he visited his aunt in upstate NY.

Now, when a flannel wearing local cocks his shotgun and fires at a row of beer cans, I become instantly nostalgic for getting a gunshot wound the proper way, from being in the wrong place at the wrong time on a city street, minding your own business while eating ice cream.

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Filed under city mouse becomes country mouse, DC to PG, i miss the smells, moving to the country from the city, why are there so many angry animals that bite and have stingers