TagCountry Life

Isolated Youth

This could be the story of my childhood. I grew up in a small town in Northern Virginia. Berryville has about 2,000 people. My high school was 550 and my graduating class was 168.

We were near enough to Washington DC and Baltimore to pick up some music from outside the Christian and Country stations which ruled our airwaves. But it was still isolated where the goal was to get out.

“Basically, this story is a controlled experiment,” I continue. “Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology.”

This paragraph sums up Berryville. Static and isolated. The internet changed everything. I often hear how the internet made the world a smaller place, but for me, it made the world much larger.

On a Slower Life

We are very much products of where we’ve come from. My life is strongly colored by my upbringing. I grew up on a farm. I grew up around animals. I had trees and fields. I took bike rides and wrote in notebooks.

I did not have cable television. I did not have the Internet until later in my adolescence, and even then did not have broadband connectivity until college.

I grew up slower.

I wasn’t ignorant. I read voraciously. I wrote and thought. I shared my thoughts in that fledgling collection of wires and computers. I talked to classmates and spent hours on the phone with a friend talking to the wee hours of the morning.

I have no idea what we talked about. Important things™ to our teenage minds.

It was a slower life. A life of Sunday afternoon reading under the sunlight or playing baseball in the yard. A weekend of soccer games and ice cream. The long bike rides and long drives as I got older to enjoy the world surrounding me.

hammock on the farm

A world I took for granted as the young often do.

As I get older, I yearn to return to that slower life. I am not cut out for the city. I want to watch fields fill with firefly and lightening dance across the sky. I want the wind to blow over the uncut fields and hear the distant mooing.

I am not cut out for the city. I like my quiet far too much. I don’t understand references to most Nickelodeon shows or the piles of other children’s television my wife can recite from memory.

I had 6 channels. (Maybe 8 if the wind was right.)

I watched the Red Green Show and learned about the Handyman’s Secret Weapon. I spent a lot of time fighting with antennas to marginally improve a picture of a basketball game or The X-Files.

It was a slower life and as I ease into the middle of my third decade of life, it’s that slower life I miss.

(Photos taken Eric Holscher, my brother.)

TV is not the default

Television was not the default in my home growing up. We did not have cable television. We could not get cable television had we wanted to. We lived too far out in a rural area of Northern Virginia. ((Rural as in, the school bus was late because the herd of cows in the road would not move. Have you ever tried to move a cow?))

We had an antenna and a series of stations from the surrounding area. We had FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS ((Sometimes)) from Washington DC. We also had WDCA and Channel 50 which I can’t recall what station it was affiliated with. We also has PBS, and a hand full of local, educational programming stations. So we were never for want of documentaries and science programming. As far as mainstream TV, it was a toss-up. Sometimes you could watch an entire hour of television without interruption and static snow across the screen. Other times, it would render whatever you were trying to enjoy unwatchable and sporting events were no better.

I got to thinking about this because I found myself missing the lazy, quiet Sunday afternoons at home. I would be curled up with a good book or magazine. ((This was a time before the internet.)) I loved the rainy days most of all because the drops would splash off our tin roof. ((Did I mention we lived in a 150+ year old farm-house?))

I was thinking about the peace and quiet of those Sundays because my wife and I were recently curled up on our couch, under a soft blanket reading. Only she had her Kindle and I had my iPad using the Kindle app. It was peaceful and quiet and I was very happy.

The TV was off. The stereo not playing. No video games or talking. It was just peaceful serenity and reading. The Kindle and it’s related apps for iPhone and iPad have reignited my love of reading. But that’s another story for another day.