Friday, September 30, 2011

Dichotomy Dichoto-you?

"Gosh, kids who live on the farm look like they have it so easy. I wish I lived on a farm!" 
"I NEVER get to walk beans or bale hay. Look at them carrying firewood like they are so much better than me. Assholes."  
"You get to ride the bus for almost 2 hours a day? LUCKY!" 

I'll take "Things I've Never Heard Town Kids Say" for $1000...

di·chot·o·my [dahy-kot-uh-mee]
1.       1. Division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.
2.       2. Division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups. 

When you've spent most of your life surrounded by groves of trees and rolling fields every adventure that leads you through a "city" is like being transported to a magical world. Even as an adult I am awed by the skyline of even a modest city at night. The twinkling of lights, the swirl of activity in a world still alive far later than at home is mesmerizing.

I remember being half asleep in the back seat of the car as a very young child, on our way to visit an aunt at Christmas time somewhere near Minneapolis. Given my experience with cities at that point I could have been near any town that had an industrial block and it would have been the same. It was beautiful. The skyline blinked  ahead of us, side streets held a constant flow of traffic below our interstate lane, and I gazed longingly out the window wishing I could be there in the middle of it all. That feeling has never left me.

I feel like from that moment on, my heart has pulled me further and further from what I knew. That car ride changed me and how I saw the world. I would never be that same little girl who stood at the bottom of the hill, in the lane, waiting for her school bus to come. Looking back on it, I can only liken it to what you hear from someone who has "come out of the closet". "I just always knew. I knew I was different than my friends and family. Sure I pretended to fit in with my peers, but deep down... I knew."

I knew at that moment that cities turned me on. I knew that when my friends were choosing their spouses and settling in small towns that I was destined for the bright lights of a city.. any city... some place that there wasn't livestock to be tended, beans to be walked, corn to be detasseled, or chicken houses to clean.  I yearned for the excitement, the activity, and the anonymity that comes with living somewhere that not every single person in town knows your family. I was going to get out. Somewhere there was a place I wouldn't be Ryan's sister, Nancy's daughter from her first marriage, and later Mark's ex-wife. And I got it... and it was good... except...

Except when I hear something like this:

I have 3 country music songs in my music library of approximately 500 songs.
Loretta Lynn- Coal Miner's Daughter (because it cracks me up to call Jeana and sing it to her)
Rascal Flatts- What Hurts The Most (because for some reason they keep playing it on my regular stations)
Jason Aldean- Dirt Road Anthem (because I have no idea why but I like it)

The other half of me, that country girl, the one who still gets pissed off when people mock her upbringing, the antithesis of all I am today, she's still there. When I remember what it was like to pile into a car with my friends and cruise the back roads on the weekends, a bonfire blazing, the smell of harvest, the harvest party (which is coming up doncha know), I step away from that little girl with the bright lights in her eyes and get home sick as hell.

I have had someone say jokingly (maybe) that I wouldn't know anything about baking the family's angel food cakes because I don't have ovens in my office. I've also had people, not so subtly, indicate that I am somehow less capable of understanding things such as politics and money because I'm a "country bumpkin". I can identify with people on either side of the city limit line, with the exception of that feeling some seem to have that they are better than their counterparts outside the boundaries of their little worlds.

I can teach you how to detassel, identify a milk weed, butcher and clean a chicken, and tell you that if the moisture in the corn is above 15% when you take it to town you're probably going to get docked for it. I can also set up your wireless network, tell you when the best Macy's clearance is, and which restaurants in town have the best tapas. These two women don't spend any time together, but each has spent time wishing they were the other.

Two halves. Not Overlapping. Opposites. The differences far more plentiful than the similarities. But if you put them together... One me. A guy once told me "chicks are such a dichotomy", but I think it's more than chicks. Whether it's your angel side and your devil side, your half-German / half-Hispanic heritage, or something else, many of us are exactly that. How about you?


Leauxra said...

I TOTALLY understand this. According to my mother, the first time I ever saw a store mannequin I freaked the hell out. We lived in a small mountain town, and she realized she was raising bumpkins.

I have been trying to reconcile the two halves for a while. Like, maybe finding a vacation we both would like... Something exiting and foreign for the little-miss-urban, but somewhere that also has access to foreign mountain ranges that I could climb.

We just can't quite agree on where to live.

Left Coast Guy said...


I have always been a city boy growing up. But as I have grown older I appreciate the qualities inherent in the countryside. I like hearing the insects and the birds singing. I revel in being able to see the stars and hear the wind. When I reach that point of "retirement" that's way down the road yet, I expect I will live on a farm or a ranchette. But I also know that I will never be more than 45 minutes or so from the city lights and Downtown. Once that density of culture gets in your blood, it never leaves you and you cant wholly leave it.



Steve Bailey said...

Personally I am a city guy.... but in truth..... I too split my time between two different places. One... obviously.... the city. The other.... prison. Some call this "work release" but I say that's just splitting hairs!

Kaloo5 said...

Lovely :)
Reminds me of growing up on my uncles ranch, if I had an uncle who had a ranch. That's exactly how I'd grow up :)
I think I would have made a good country boy. Sometimes the city gets a bit much for me.
I'd easily move to any countryside that had at least the basics, like Cable TV, wireless internet, decent mobile coverage and someone who'll deliver my food within 20 minutes of ordering ;)

Paula said...

I'm from a really small town in West Virginia and I swear to god we used to party in fields after the football games when I was in highschool. Every now and then there was an attempt at cow tipping...this never went well.

Angie said...

I love going back to visit, but I don't know that I could be happy in the small town world anymore. I love the idea of having things to do all around me even if I choose NOT to do them. :)

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