Country Mouse to City Mouse

I have mentioned it around from time to time, but incase you didn't know, or have forgotten, I was raised out in the country side, but now reside in the city. Specifically, I grew up on a farm 2.5 miles outside of a town of 250 people. I now live about 2.5 miles form Wrigley Field in Chicago. A blogger friend of mine asked me how did I make the transition?

The answer? SLOWLY!

Before moving to Chicago, I had been to Chicago maybe 3 times in my "adult" life to that time. I got a job offer in early June and I started in early July. Luckily, I had a good friend living in the NW suburbs, I spent a weekend with her, found a place (tip: make sure your car fits in with the other cars in the parking lot), moved in, and spent the next 11 years living in the northwest suburbs, shedding some of my country ways. Then I moved into the city for another 11 years.

That first year was an exciting time, everything seemed new and exciting, and I eagerly tried to shed "hick ways" to fit in with my new, cooler, co-workers.

Things I really miss:

– I miss seeing the stars. The city lights drown them out. On the farm, if you turned off the yard light, it was a NIGHT SKY.

– I miss baling hay. Honest work out in the sunny summer sky. I'm tall, I always worked the out on the rack, rarely in the mow.

– Waving to people driving the other way down the street. Not because you know them, just to be friendly. A realtor was standing in front of my building Sunday, waiting for her client. Since she was milling around in front of where I live, I said a quick, "Hi." She looked at me with a combination of fear, bewilderment, and annoyance. I know that look. I get it a lot.

Changes I had to make:

– In the country, you might walk to the barn, "walk beans" (it mean weed, because you walk up and down the rows), or down to the mail box, but that was it. In the city, walking became more just an option for a lot of trips, it became the most effective and efficient mode of transport in a lot of cases. Now, I'm angry that my preferred grocery chain isn't in walking distance.

– I had to get used to PAYING to park my car. And not just like a quarter in a meter. Like in parking garages, and valets. In the country, if you tossed your keys to a stranger to park your can, he'd punch you. Then driver your car into a lake.

– I learned that you just can't shoot the neighbor's dog if he knocks up your dog. I the country, your dad can do that, even if the dog belongs to your high school principal.

– Instead of peeing behind a tree, you have to pee behind a dumpster.

– The noon whistle? Where I come from, there are daily noon and 5:00 whistles. How do I know when to go to lunch or to leave work without a whistle?

(Editor's note: Listen 'Mr. Groundhog', if that's your REAL name, if you know what's good for you, you'll do the right thing and NOT see that shadow. Capice?)


Poobomber said...

Having also grown up on the farm, I gave up trying to make myself suit the city. Now I try and make the city suit me.

Sass said...

He saw the shadow.

Can we shoot him?

Only in the country, I guess. ;)

Sassy Britches said...

I never could get over the "no wave" rule in Chicago. The one step further "no eye contact" one was just a little freaky, to be honest. (If you get a wild hair, go back and read my very first ever post, for a cute story about that).

I did, however, take to the walking thing. Now, in my small town, I walk as much as I can (usually a good 2 miles or so to get downtown and back--no biggie in the city), but people have started labeling me as the weird lady who walks everywhere.

I hope you get to experience a few of those things now and again, to get your "country fix." I'd be very sad if you didn't! :(

SouthernBelle said...

Haha, I thought it was just Americans in general who didn't like walking anywhere. Seriously, y'all need to get out of the car once in a while.

I grew up in a big city in Australia & now live in a (comparatively) small town in the Southern US... BIG change. Random people totally say hi to you... and they're just being nice.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I think this post beautifully reflects the complexities of who you are as a person. It is a well written, "window to the soul" of Scope, so to speak.

Cliche as it is, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the boy..and I'm guessing you wouldn't have it any other way...

And Puxatawney Phil (however you spell it) is a PUNK!

Dr Zibbs said...

Was there a big fat guy in your hometown and his nickname was tiny?

Giggle Pixie said...

I giggled at the comment about just waving or saying "hi" to folks you encounter. That's the way it was in the town where I grew up too, and it never ceases to amaze me that even here in little old South Bend, Indiana, doing that seems to shock rather than warm the average Joe.

I miss that too.

SkylersDad said...

Our small town blew the fire whistle every day at noon in order to test it. And I still wave at people!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I lived right across the street from the Noon whistle. Probably why I have tinnitus so badly.

I had the same issues moving to the "city", but it's a little easier when the first "city" you move to is South Bend. For me, the biggest adjustment was learning that there were Democrats and Black People in the world and not just on tv, and they weren't too keen on it if you touched them to make sure they were real.

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

I love Chicago. When I moved to Seattle for a couple of years after living in Peoria, IL all my life I was amazed how noisy everything was and Peoria isnt a small town really. Whenever they heard I was from Illinois they would always ask me if I knew Micheal Jordan.: )

(I used to leave my keys on the dash board)

Cora said...

"She looked at me with a combination of fear, bewilderment, and annoyance. I know that look. I get it a lot"... can I just say AWWWWWWW. That just made me want to give you a big ole hug, Scope! That broke my heart a little bit. (sniffle).

Of course, Mr 6'5", you must know your stature might be a tad intimidating to strangers, I'm sure. If you were a 5'3" female, you might have an easier time saying hi to strangers. I do. No-one thinks I'm scary. It's unfair, I know. And now I feel a twinge of guilt here too. *sigh*

Although, I bet being a tall man has lots of other advantages. Do you have to stand on a freaking chair to reach the top shelf of your kitchen cabinet or to change a light bulb? I do. Do you have to scoot your seat all the way forward in the car to reach the pedals? I do. When you go on Star Tours in Disneyland, do you have to make sure you're not wearing a short skirt because you know your feet won't reach the damn floor and you'll have to put your feet up on the backs of the chairs in front of you for stability and you don't want to flash half of Disneyland if you can avoid it? I do. So, see, there are advantages and disadvantages for everyone. It all evens out. :-)

Cora said...

Oh, and as for the damn groundhog, I would soooo love to punch him in the face right now! Stupid rodent.

Scope said...

Poo – I've adjusted all I'm going to. They are just going to have to deal with my annoying habit of crossing the street where ever and when ever I damn well please, and using the magic force of my outstretched hand to repel their vehicles.

Sass – He might have seen his shadow, but he won't see what's coming next.

Sassy Britches – I still screw up and make eye contact out in public (and on the L) all the time. I have to follow it with the quick "guy nod" so that I don't get turned in to the Department of Homeland Security as some kind of threat.

And my parents live in Kewanee and my sister in Toulon, so I can still get back and get some country fix when I need to. (Yes – I have met Mary, from Good's on more than one occasion.)

SouthernBelle – Based on previous things you've said, I would say you live in or around a smaller mid-sized US city down there. Definitely not the kind of backwater I come from. But to help you out, I think the walking thing for me is that I hate to look for parking. Even if it will take me 5 minutes to drive, five to find parking, STOP. I'll spend 15 minutes walking it and be in a MUCH better mood. And, since the stereotype is accurate, the American South tends to be a little slower and friendlier than some places in the North. I attribute it to the God awful humidity, where you don't want to do anything quick, and the more rural nature. I've got a friend down there who uses 'Yankee' as swear word.

Candy – You're so sweet… :-) But there have been a few offers to beat/slap the country out of me.

Dr Zibbs – Close, "Little Ivan". His much smaller father was "Big Ivan".

Giggle Pixie – It's probably just those folks from Roseland.

SkylersDad – Some traditions are worth keeping.

iNDefatigable One – When you come from a high school like mine, where there was one minority, not one minority group, a single minority individual in the whole school system, it is a shock to realize that other races/creeds/nationalities/etc. actually exist.

Sarah – Peoria proper, or you gonna cop to really being from like, Dunlap or Pekin? (Pronounced: "Peek'n" not like the city in China). And one word to make your mouth water – AVANTI'S!

Cora – I may be tall, but I don't think I look particularly intimidating. And I can get to all my shelves no problem, but in this place, I do need a ladder to change a light bulb.

And I've been eating sausage and SPAM all day, just to get some "ground hog."

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

See, we had two minorities. The Pakistani kid had a younger sister. So, you've got me beat.

Gwen said...

Same here. When I first moved to St. Louis I couldn't understand why you had to get on the highway to get toilet paper. Where I'm from we got on the highway to to go to Taco Bell because it was in the next town, 30 miles away.

Morgan the Muse said...

I know what you mean, I live two miles away from a town of 136. But I am looking at a job in a city of 76k, in a different country. I am going to lose my mind, I just know it.

~E said...

I think I'd last a few days in the country...before someone ties me up, stuffs me in their trunk, and drives me back to the city where I belong.

Ms. Florida Transplant said...

I miss the smell of fresh-bailed hay and hearing the cows moo in the morning.

Growing up, you would wave at every person you drove by on the deserted farm roads. Now people won't even wave at me when I'm out jogging if I wave at them. That was a weird adjustment for me, too.