by Karrie Sue Chambless
I grew up in a small town then spent my adult life livin’ in the bigger cities of Texas: Austin, Houston, and Dallas, and their suburbs. As a young’n I dreamed of livin’ in even bigger cities, like Manhattan or Boston. I managed to visit Manhattan, but the only time I ever lived full-time outside Texas was a brief stay in Shreveport (a stay not really worth mentionin’: it’s just like Northeast Texas and it ain’t no big city.) I finally decided the country life was for me.
A little over a year ago the Trailerpark Bodhisattva pulled up stakes and moved from Swamp City to a small town on the outskirts of nowhere, in the Texas Hill Country. My first reaction was “I wanna live in the country in an old farmhouse!” I guess I wanted it bad enough cuz the Universe conspired to make that happen. I’d made a half-assed effort at looking for a job elsewhere, but when I lost my job in the Burbs of Swamp City, I knew I had to ramp it up a bit.
I’d been looking for work on the west side of Austin, but one summer afternoon after a nap, I had what I call Divine Inspiration, wonderin’ if there were any jobs to be had on the east side of town. I’d recently been to Manor for a square dance and had also gone through Bastrop on a recent visit. I looked online and both districts had jobs posted that I was qualified for, as well as interested in. I filled out online applications, emailed my letter of recommendation, and made some phone calls.
In the space of a couple of weeks I’d had an interview, a job offer, friends to stay with in Bastrop, and a signed contract. It was a whirlwind process that I can only credit as the work of Divine Intervention (and I say that cuz my only other alternative was to work as a barista as the local Starbucks.)
So, I had a job. Next up -- the farmhouse in the country, too. I found the perfect place on Craigslist. My dog, Otis, and I went to check it out. We fell in love with a 100-year-old farmhouse on an acre in the middle of cattle ranches. After a year in a one bedroom apartment, we were both ready for the peace and quiet of the country. I sat with a friend listing the pros and cons of my prospective residence. The list of pros was long: trees, cows, a whole acre, neighbors all a few acres away, peace and quiet. The only drawback was that it’s an hour away from Austin. But how could I not choose to live in such a heavenly place?
It truly is heavenly. And you’d think with only havin’ one item on the “Cons” list, I couldn’t go wrong. And for almost a year, it’s been just right. After teaching school all day, I enjoy the solitude, havin’ no neighbors around, walkin’ the caliche road without leashin’ my dawg, and swimmin’ in the well-fed stock pond. And I know many of you have enjoyed my farm-life photos. But let’s face it, an hour is a long drive to make if you wanna just go hang out in Austin, cuz ya gotta drive another hour just to get home. Pretty tough to do on a weeknight and not be dragged out the next day. And with gas prices continuing to climb, it not only eats up my time, it also takes a toll on the wallet.
Troubles and worries start slippin’ away the moment I turn down the highway heading home every day. It’s about the only therapy I can afford, since I spend about an hour in “the chair.” I figure gas costs about the same as an hour of therapy. It’s better, though, cuz there’s no talking and there're trees. Seems like every time I head down that ol‘ caliche road, I breathe a sigh of relief. Then I start chokin‘ on the dust from the road that fills up my entire car, every cranny and crevice. Even my CD player has fallen victim to the dirt; it’s so clogged up it won’t play.
A nearby grocery store would be nice, too. Next year I’ll be teaching in the country, and there are no good grocery stores out here. I drive by one every work day and hafta make myself stop. You may have heard me mention I don’t like to shop. The Trailerpark Bodhisattva recently commented on my empty cupboards in a recent limerick, even. The combination of my distaste for it plus the complete inconvenience of goin’ to the store may well lead me to starvation.
I suppose the biggest kicker is the limits it places on my social life. True, I moved out here for a rest from the hustle and bustle, bein’ on the go all the time, but I may be ready for a little more spontaneity. Any social interactions I have take a lot of planning, packin’ an overnight bag for me and my dawg, and a bit of travel time. Not only would I like to be able to see more of my peeps in Austin, I’d like to be able to go to church more often and participate in the activities offered throughout the week, actually go out and meet new people, make new friends.
Still, the city does not appeal to me much. And though I’m keepin’ an eye out for a place closer to town, it’s gonna hafta be another slice of heaven. You don’t recover from the Bucolic Plague overnight.
[Editor's note: Karrie Sue, aka Principessa di Rosanky, is throwin' a party at her digs. Y'all are welcome to read more about it at "Sweet Summer Solstice In Swanky Rosanky"...]