I was reading this month’s Real Simple magazine – that thing is just a little pocket of joy in your day, let me tell you – when I came across an article about families who moved during the pandemic.
I would link the article, but I can’t find it online. I even checked Real Simple’s social media. But if you don’t mind my having ripped out “Genius Beauty: Get Cheeky” and the picture of the self-standing broom, you can have my copy.
Anyway, the article describes one family who wanted to embrace the outdoors lifestyle. So they moved to Alaska.
It was bumpy at first, but the family settled and now even has a podcast about their outdoorsy Alaskan lifestyle.
And it does sound idyllic. It’s like this report from CBS, which takes us soaring over quiet streets buffered by lush foliage. These pieces make a rural move sound dreamy. Life-changing. As in, someday they’ll make a movie about your adventure, where Matt Damon plays your husband and Cate Blanchett plays you.
Pump the brakes a minute, gang. I’ve talked to you about these urges before.
You know how sometimes you’ll be out, and you maybe get checked out, and you think, “If I was single…”
But you’re not single, so you resist the urge to flirt – mostly – and go back home where you belong?
Well, moving somewhere rural is that guy checking you out. Just keep it moving, fella.
When I got married, I knew this family I loved and had now hooked myself indelibly to had a cabin in the woods. What I didn’t know was the complicated relationship I would develop with that cabin.
It’s the family legacy, so to ensure my kids would love it and care for it and use it, I started taking them to the cabin when each turned three years old.
It’s rural. I mean, rural. Let’s say you forget that antibiotic your preschooler has almost finished. You can call your big box pharmacy at home – the one across the street from your house – and have them transfer the prescription to the one closest to the cabin.
It’s one hour and seven minutes away.
Or let’s say you have two beers when you get to the cabin Friday night. And even though you haven’t eschewed alcohol for thirteen years because that’s how long it’s been since you were pregnant, your body still slams you with a headache the next day.
Well, Starbucks is fifty-seven miles away. That’s closer than the pharmacy but we both know ibuprofen isn’t going to cut it.
And if you discover the marshmallows now roughly approximate the firmness of your alcohol intolerance but you promised the kids s’mores because that’s a super-outdoorsy thing you can do, you’re in luck.
Wal-Mart is only 28 minutes away.
Rest assured, despite my first-hand knowledge of the implications of rural life, I dream about making that move all the time. But I’m a city girl in my heart.
Here’s the thing about city life. When you pass something green on the sidewalk in the city, it might be a struggling bit of grass or even last night’s Midori, but it’s never, ever a snake.
The Urban Dictionary tells me hucksters are hipsters who enjoy the slower pace of country life.
Think Diane Keaton in Baby Boom.
And whatever you do, don’t enter the words you’ve seen on your teenagers’ texts into Urban Dictionary. You will regret it and probably lose some sleep.
This weekend, though, I was reminded of why I can’t be a huckster.
I have inherited the task of cleaning the cabin, which used to fall to my mother-in-law and somehow rather adorably eludes my husband.
Rural life means cobwebs spring up in your house in the time it takes to get marshmallows from Wal-Mart. Gruesomely shaped bugs find their final resting spot on your windowsills. And the shocking iron level in the water means all the porcelain turns brown unless you put your back into it.
I could have really used a Swiffer for my weekend cleaning spree, but fifty-six minutes round trip for marshmallows is one thing. Nobody is going to support my doing that for Swiffers.
According to the CBS piece, 16 million people have moved since the start of the pandemic. And this cool graphic from The Wall Street Journal shows the nature of our exodus.
“Nature” is the right word for it.
But I’ve found an ally in Arwa Mahdawi of The Guardian, who writes about her vacation in the Catskills curing her huckster yearnings.
I’ve been to the Catskills. I’ve camped in the Catskills. Here in Bucks County, when your husband doesn’t come home, you figure it’s because he’s stuck at that stupid traffic light at County Line and Second Street Pike. In the Catskills, you figure it’s because he fell into the river and died.
Those are two very different days.
Let’s go to Starbucks and talk about it.
See you there in five.