Conflict: Country Mouse or City Mouse?
We've lived in the country by Okemos and Williamston, in mid-Michigan, for 15 years now. We have one friend who stops by. We can't keep up our yard or even our house.
It's not really country, but it is pretty. And our house is more like a cottage. Falling into ruin. We're not handyfolk. We can do a lot, but not that. No harm---except to houses.
Maybe we should move to a town. Should be renters. We have other things to do than own a home.
I need water. There's no water around here.
Martha just spent several days in our old Ann Arbor, where we did have a house til recently that we rented out. A rare chance, probably our only chance. Who could afford a house there now? But we sold it. If we hadn't embarked on that wildhair we could've just moved back. Oh well. But I couldn't take care of it either. That work's not for me, I guess. Big deal, but I do need to face it.
So what's the downside of renting? No appreciation. I could just be bearish and suggest that appreciation isn't what's in store anyway. I just want a place to work and finally to die.
Anyway, Martha had a great time in AA. Friends all see each other every week, at least. Old pals stopped by after walking their kids to school. Everything is in walking distance. School for the kids just down the street. Groceries, post office. If you want country it's a five minute drive away.
Here it's the reverse, but here you can't ever get to a city, coz there ain't none. A city is rare in America anymore, isn't it. So if you can get at one and decide you need it, don't secondguess it.
Martha helped Mike run his big wacky garage sale then for the next few days she ran into people who she met at the sale everywhere in town.
AA is a town where you know the people who work at the places here'n'there.
Where we live now, in the semi-burbs, all we get are vacant stares. It's true! For 15 years! Martha is the only person around here who rides her bike for groceries.
Sure, there are some nice folks. Just not many. And they're in their cars. It's not a neighborhood. The kids are a bit lonely, too. I was, too, growing up here. It's a thin place. Kids know it. It depresses them.
We have good friends and family here. The kids do have friends. It's just not a neighborhood. It's farflung carland. And the nearby towns and cities are in big trouble. The freeway exits and big boxes dominate where we live and that's hard to live with. Some must be able to at least tolerate it all, but we're hurtin'.
Our kids have a pediatrician who treats them like cattle. Well, the local doc is part of a "team" of course. Teams are so great, right! The parts are replaceable, isn't that sweet. There's no humanity there, is the problem. We've seen each doc once, so we get the lovely stranger vibe. Our AA pals just mentioned having their doc over for a potluck. Big difference!
People stop by in AA. That's what they do in neighborhoods. Sure, we get a lot of work done here, with no one stopping by hardly (except one!).
OK, AA is famous for having an attitude (here and there). And it's pricey and doesn't have the space of the rural-burbs. Ingham County is famous...for what? For its nothingness. Everything here is DIY. Nothingness gives freedom. There's a good side to it. It's a blank slate. ...With blank stares. It's easy to do your own thing, no crowds, not much noise, but the blankness gets at us. I try to think that, Hey, this is America. It needs uplift and help. People want to learn how to survive the TV and the car. Is there a way to thrive in the burbs? We should try to make it work and pass the word along. I need to pitch in, contribute. But really I should admit it: it's a goner. I do contribute: and get funny looks.
Some people get by by joining interest groups. Well, I want to contribute to a culture not to a club that I sign up to that others aren't members of. We could pre-select for decent folk by orienting our lives around a nice church, but we want to be inclusive.
This mode of gutted cities and diffused car-land around it is a goner. It kills, in every way that can kill, from within and without. The people with the stares are going away. There's no helping them or their kind. Ya can't relate to a TV or a car or a social club or an "appreciation" value scheme.
Speculation is not a cultural dynamic. It's a business poison. It used to be castigated as debased by businessmen! Today it's the ruling part of America. And so that part is a goner. They forgot that it's still a poison even if popular. Even if it works to create exploitable bloat in the short-term, a cancer is a cancer. Maybe it's not as bad as all that, but it probably is. You can't thrive if you live somewhere where it's part of some "bargain," some deal you'll cash in on. A dollar isn't something to base a life on.
AA would cost us a lot to move to. Some people pay to be part of plain old neighborhoods these days. If that's what they value. Do we? Less yard, less house, less car...
Maybe we need a test move. Lighten our load here. Rent something there. But a test would require renting out our house here...and then maintaining it for whomever. It would be like keeping up our own house only worse.
The best way to save time, energy and cash is to stay put. Maybe we just need to deal with it. It's hard for everyone, isn't it. But we can make choices. I hated growing up here, with only drainage ditches to play in, if I wanted some water. We did have some dandy fields and woods, but those are built up now. Still, there's some space around... Maybe just enough, for kids anyway...