When I was 18 I moved to the city. The lure of the action, the noise and the lights thrilled me. For years I had longed for the opportunity to do something, anything, after closing time, but in a small town, and I’m talking half a tumbleweed town here, everything shuts down at 5pm for the night, even the DVD shop. I could not wait for the incoming blast of excitement.
For the first few years I lived in the centre of town and while it scared my country girl heart it thrilled every other part of me. Trying to fit into my new world and to keep up with all that was happening there was no time left to worry about where I lived. From my window I could see the stray cats in the alley way, the shops, the people and the streets that never seemed to grow quiet.
Later, I moved a couple of blocks away from the heart of the city into a flat with a view of walls, cars and people. I got a job and some responsibilities and life was still exciting. I could go out for ice cream at 9pm or to a movie on my way home from work. It was the ability to be spontaneous that gripped me so, but somewhere deep inside I felt caged. I longed for grass and a view with some distance.
Slowly, over the years, I moved further up the hill away from the city and while I haven’t yet made it to a suburb, I have graduated to a view. It’s a magnificent view of the ocean, the horizon, the blue world that does not end. My windows face east and there is nothing quite as spectacular as watching the sun peep over the horizon and turn the black world indigo, pink, orange, violet and red before the day begins. I also have a priceless front row seat when the storms hit. I love the noise of the cars slushing by, the windows rattling, the world shimmering as the rain thunders down. Afterwards everything is clean, the green bits glower and the white buildings gleam as the sky clears and normality ensues.
The odd thing is that even with the horizon filling an entire wall of my abode that caged feeling occasionally resurfaces. A short term solution is to find the botanical gardens, take off my shoes and smell the flowers. A better answer is to pack my bags and head to the country for the weekend. There I breathe in the dusty roads, listen to the birds and at night I lie in bed feeling the heavy darkness of the world without streetlights. I look out the window at a sky full of stars while contemplating the screaming silence of the countryside.
While I wouldn’t swop my city life, with movies, the theatre, cafes, late night cafes, bookshops, people, lights, bustle and noise, it’s clear that part of my roots are still vested in the country, and I have no problem with that.