Both Eric and I were born country mice. We grew up in homes surrounded by space and corn fields, few neighbors, and an impossible amount of trees. We grew up to the sounds of rushing creeks and the occasional coyote and stern warnings about watching out for deer as we grabbed keys and headed out the door at night in high school. We grew up where dogs were let out the back door to do their business where they pleased, usually and courteously near the edge of the woods.
Now, we, and our children by default, are city mice. Instead of acres of backyard, we have city parks with playground equipment and splashpads. We are within minutes authentic Indian curries, Greek falafels, and Vietnamese pho. We take city buses and can listen to different languages spoken in our grocery store aisles. We hear sirens and fireworks and planes that fly low overhead, and we could go and see good live music almost every night of the week.
We’ve traded the local Pizza Hut for six different hand-crafted, artisanal, wood-fired pizza options…the Dairy Queen that’s been there since 1954 for sea salt & caramel ice cream made with locally sourced milk…the town-pride local high school for the possibility of sending our kids to any one of hundreds of public, private, charter, or magnet schools….the sound of a forest full of birds for ceaseless traffic…open sky for sky scrapers.
Country Mice. City Mice.
Every few months, I just say it outloud: “Should we live in the country? We could have a huge backyard and a dog, and I could start over decorating in a great big farmhouse and have a giant garden, and our kids could run outside unsupervised, and we could live where it was quiet and still possible to hear the wind in the trees.”
And then we talk about the reality of living far apart from the deep community we’ve cultivated here. We talk about starting over, finding a church, learning a new grocery store. And how difficult it would be to find web design and development work for Eric, much less an ESL job for me if and when I return to work.
We talk about what we’d miss about the city – the cultures, the food, museums and festivals, meeting people at the park. We talk about the isolation that is often rural living, how everything is at least fifteen minutes away. We talk about wanting our kids to know how big and wide and varied the world is. And we agree, that for now, we are city mice, and our children will be too.
And a few months down the road, the conversation starts over again.
We entertain ideas about where. Closer to one of our families. Maybe outside of Rochester or Duluth…a medium sized city with lots of pretty space around it. But still close to Minneapolis. Sometimes we talk about moving to a place with mountains.
But we look for the open doors. And for now, they are open to this city. And mostly, we love it here. It is a city – full of vibrancy and life and mostly loveable weirdos– permeated by parks and trees and rivers and lakes. Oh…and the seemingly endless food (Birchwood, Broders’, and Brasa, Barbette, Bachelor Farmer, and Bar La Grassa…and that’s just the B’s.) Plus, I’m fairly certain essential parts of my soul would shrivel up and die if I lived in a place where everyone looks the same. But every so often, I get antsy for fresh air and the sound of tree frogs at night.
And you? Are you a country mouse? City mouse? Or something in between?