Back in my younger days, I was an avid hiker and backpacker. I didn’t come by the habit naturally. No, I was dating Huckleberry Finn, and he thought the wilderness was the be all and end all pinnacle of relaxation. Screech!
Thankfully, when asked what he thought of camping, my fabulous husband responded thoughtfully by saying, “You mean, like the lobby of the Marriott?” Way right answer!
I get that there are times when the notion of dropping off the grid and heading off the beaten path seem like the only way to hear yourself think. But have you ever tried to meditate in a house without forced heat? I’ve done it, and the romance is way overrated.
Today, my husband and I live in a small mountain community that many refer to as a “resort community.” In mountain speak, that means we have tourists in the summer, and nature provides everything remotely associated with entertainment. Before you decide to pack it all up and head out to your cabin in the woods, let me fill you in on what we’ve learned by living in ours.
Privacy? You Don’t Have No Stinkin’ Privacy.
When you live where there are no street lights, no food delivery, and no postal delivery, you spend a large amount of time (during the day, mind you) in public places. Grocery stores are gossip hubs, and picking up your mail requires a certain degree of willingness to make small talk with, well, pretty much everyone. The mailmen at our local branch know our shopping habits as well as our schedules. And while that seems only minimally invasive, it’s hard to get away with saying, “I’m shopping for the neighbors” more than once a quarter.
Everyone Wants You…at First.
If you’re the new kids in town, your dance card will be overflowing with offers from the neighbors. You see, the wilderness is fraught with danger. Power outages mean no internet connection. Windy autumn weather brings the omnipresent danger of forest fires, and during the winter you’re bound to have to call a tow truck for the teenager up the street when his car hits the ice and careens into your power pole. The mountain, in many ways, has its own social ecosystem, too. You have to engage with it because your neighbors may be your only option in an emergency (like when you run out of firewood…or tequila).
You’ll Still Need to Answer to the Law
Probably the biggest misnomer when it comes to life in a small rural town is the absurd notion that “no one’s lookin.’” We don’t have a whole lot of stop signs up here, but we have plenty of intersections and residents that seem to think that the rules they learned to get their license no longer apply. Your little town may lack a large police presence, but if you do seriously wrong, your neighbors will turn you in…and share it on Facebook.
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As a final thought, my husband and I are completely happy with the things we’ve given up to have the life we have here. As writers, we’re pretty insulated (and being locked down during COVID-19 really hasn’t changed us much). Once you tell someone you write for a living, they’re far less inclined to share much about themselves for fear of being publicly outed. So, now, come to think of it, just pack up your car, head to the woods, and tell folks you’re a writer. They’ll leave you alone…most of the time.