The older I get, the more I miss the small barely two stoplight town I grew up in. It’s only 60 miles west of me. It’s a place where my father still can’t get land-based broadband internet. It’s where I grew up without cable TV because the cables stopped at the end of my road. And there weren’t enough people to justify running them back to the few houses that sat on acres of land.
J.D. Bentley writes in The Ruralist
The most redeeming quality of big cities is that their people choose to congregate in small, dense areas, leaving the bulk of the earth to the rest of us.
As I’ve entered my third decade on this earth, that line resonates deeply with me. I grew up with cows and deer for neighbors. I grew up without a working knowledge of the Nickelodeon schedule. I grew up in a quiet place. Where I could sit outside and barely hear another sign of humanity. I’d walk in the woods and take long bike rides past apple orchards and corn fields. I relished the silence. The wind in my ears as I raced down hills and pedaled like a maniac up the next.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to move out of the little town. I could not wait to spread my wings in a bigger city. I escaped to Richmond, VA for college and lived there for a several years afterwards. Then I returned home to the outskirts of Washington, DC. First living in Northern Virginia across the river from it, and now in Maryland to its north.
I like the area where I am now. It’s quiet enough it could almost be mistaken for rural. There are deer and rabbits nearby. I pass geese, ducks and the occasional heron (I think?) on my walk to the Metro.
That’s where the illusion ends. When I cross the barrier from wildlife to concrete and board a train descending underneath DC and into the heart of the city.
By day, I am city dweller, though at least I am close enough to the National Mall and Capitol Reflecting Pool I can still enjoy the ducks, green spaces and people-watching.
But I miss the quiet nights. I miss falling asleep to the wind whipping through trees and across open fields. I miss the cows and occasional rooster.
I miss hearing a world not powered by motors and processors.