Sunday, September 7, 2008

Suburbanite Complaints

I grew up in East Coast suburbia. I spent my childhood in the sheltered quiet neighborhoods of northern New Jersey. At 14, I moved in with my father who lived in a town of 1 square mile that is the first of many on the Jersey Shore. It was a bit more rough-and-tumble than my previous suburban existence. Springfield was a town where the most exciting thing to do when the community pool was closed, was go to the library. I adjusted fairly quickly to my new surroundings, and enjoyed myself as easily as a sullen teenager can.

When I was 19, I moved with a girlfriend from high school out to Northern California. We arrived on the 4th of July--Independence Day. It was as sure a sign as is possible that I had made the right move, and I lived there for 17 years. Building most of my adulthood in a quiet (but quickly growing) suburbia between San Francisco and Sacramento. Life was by no means always easy, but it suited me and I enjoyed a close relationship with my family despite being 3000 miles away from them. Considering the crap I pulled in my twenties, the distance was probably why we were able to remain close.

And now here I am in the countryside in Texas, roughly 50 miles west of Houston and about 50 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. There was absolutely nothing in my entire suburbanite existence that could have prepared me for living here. The line from the movie 'Sweet Home Alabama' rings in my ears frequently, "...people need a passport to come down here." Reese Witherspoon, I couldn't agree more.

I used to complain about loading and emptying the dishwasher. I used to complain about doing laundry. I used to complain about the garbage trucks making too much noise in the wee hours of the morning. I used to complain about upstairs neighbors walking like their feet were made of cement. I used to complain about too many people at the grocery store and not being able to get a parking space in the same zip code as the entrance. I used to complain that the city water was too hard and undrinkable as well as being hell on showers. The universe heard it all, and karma is now kicking my ass.

I no longer complain about the dishwasher, because I no longer have one. I still complain about laundry, but now I would be thrilled to have my washer and dryer next to each other instead of having one in the house and the other on the back porch. I don't complain about garbage trucks anymore because we don't have garbage pick-up out here in the country, we have to take all of our garbage down to the dump ourselves, and it's only open two days a week. After two years, I now consider the local grocery store crowded if there are more than three customers in there with me. We don't even have city water, now I have well water, a drainage ditch, and a septic system. The universe is laughing itself sick right about now.

I also get to hear the neighbors' chickens which have adopted us, and wake us up daily to let us know it's time to put out food for the outdoor cats so they (the chickens) can eat it all up. I sit outside, and watch the other neighbors' cows over the back fence. I haven't had a pizza or Chinese food delivered since I've been here. Instead of a garbage truck, I have become accustomed to the buzz of a bi-plane crop duster a few times a week during the season. I'm more than 20 miles away from a Walmart in either direction. Even the closest gas station is 5 miles away, and I pass many cows, corn & cotton fields to get there. The nearest hospital; 26 miles. And the biggest change, is the constant need to pay attention to the weather, no longer for mere informational purposes, but for actual survival.

On the plus side, it's quiet aside from the noises within my own home, and I don't have upstairs neighbors. I have a washer and dryer of my own instead of having to frequent the laundromat. Those three people in the grocery store are friendly, and there is always parking. I learned to make my own homemade pizza and fully appreciate Chinese food because it is such a treat. Garbage only costs us $1 per bag to dump. The well water is nice, although the drainage ditch part sucks no matter what I do. I talk to the cows, who are very good listeners; and my aim is improving greatly from throwing rocks at the chickens.

And one more thing, I have learned not to complain...well, as a general rule. No matter how bad you think it is, it can always be worse, or at the very least, more inconvenient. And if you make a habit of complaining, the universe will gladly do whatever it has to in order to make you grateful. It is usually not a nice process, nor is it overly fun... unless you like throwing rocks at chickens.


Judi "Jlo" Moran (2006) said...

Love this post, Aria, and what a writer you are! The sign of a good writer: you can tell a story and keep me interested!
Life does sound a bit hard where you are, but I can't help think there would be a lot of people, in this day and age, who'd envy you.
And your "moral of the story" is right on.
Thanks, too, for being the very first person to sign up as a follower of my blog - wow, that made me feel good this morning.
I hope I always make your trips to my site worthwhile.
Have a great day and say hi to the chickens for me - I have fond memories of the critters from my own grandpa's farm in central Texas.

Judi "Jlo" Moran (2006) said...

Aria, come on over to my blog sometime soon. Your blog is mentioned in a recent post (2nd down from top on Mon. Sept. 8) and a link is given for my readers.