Going From Non-Stop to One Stoplight
In my early twenties, life in the Big Apple was fast, fun and exciting. I saw great bands play until early in the morning and hung out at the coolest bars. I had a union job with amazing benefits. I had a studio apartment for $1,300.00 a month. Something happening twenty-four hours a day. My life was fantastic.
In my late twenties, fast, fun and exciting became the loud, redundant, and annoying. That $1,300 studio apartment had somehow become shrunk. And, like it or not, everying was on twenty-four hours a day. I wanted space. I yearned for quiet. And I wanted a car. But, being the extremist that I am, a suburb would never do. My friend, Tammy, was headed back to her hometown in Western Kansas. I wanted to come along but she warned me, “There is nothing there.”
“Perfect,” I replied.
I quit my job, packed my stuff and rented a UHAUL. I moved to Syracuse, Kansas, a one stoplight town, population 2,500. In New York, I worked in a building with more people than that. And, now it's seven years past and I haven't looked back.
Tammy and her family took me out one day to show me the wildlife. We drove around looking for deer, rabbits, and cows. Suddenly, I screamed, "STOP!" The Bronco came to a screeching halt. I pointed excitedly, "Look, it's a tumbleweed!" They laughed, but it was the coolest thing to me. You would never see one back in New York.
Life is simpler here. Everyone waves as they drive by. I love knowing all my neighbors. When someone is in need, the community rallies around them. The pace is slower and the people are more self-reliant. I witnessed my farmer husband take apart a tractor engine and put it back together.
Recently I took my husband back to New York City for a visit. His perspective on things was fascinating. I thought I would show him the different modes of transportation here, the subway, the bus, and the taxi. We got on a bus and sat down. “What is that noise?” he asked.
I responded confused, “What noise?” I mean really, there are so many noises in New York City. Between the car alarms, trucks backing up, car horns honking and the jackhammers ripping through the concrete, how do you differentiate. He said, “The rattling near the back of the bus.”
I was stunned. I had heard the sound my whole life. I never thought about what it was, it just was. “I don’t know.” He said, “It is the seat. It needs to be fixed. How come the bus driver doesn’t stop and fix it?” I laughed so hard, I could have cried. In that moment, my viewpoint of my city changed forever. Why didn’t the bus driver stop? Is it because he doesn’t know how to fix it? Is it because if he did something besides drive, a union would strike? Is there no time to fix it?
I didn’t have the answer but suddenly I saw how much I had changed. In just seven years, I had become more independent. I had learned to bake, drive a tractor, and be of service to my community. More importantly, I noticed how peaceful I had become.