I grew up in a kind of limbo state between “country kid” and “city kid”. In California we usually lived in the country and worked in the fields- ours or someone else’s. I grew up with the smells of alfalfa and drying raisins. I felt like a country kid. But a few times we lived in town. For a brief time we even lived in L.A. I remember living in a cramped little room with a tiny closet kitchen and a window that overlooked the roof of the adjoining building. Dad took me out there once and it was exhilarating yet terrifying, like being on top of the world. I also remember eating spaghetti at a large restaurant where I was expected to be very, very quiet. I remember being on the sidewalk and looking up at the tall buildings. But for most of my life we lived on some small plot of ground and tried to make a living from whatever was growing on it- peaches, grapes, cotton, olives, apricots. I knew how to use a shovel and getting dirty was a daily occurrence.
When we moved to Oklahoma I was transformed into a “city kid” by virtue of being from California. It was also immediately assumed that I had spent lots of time at the beach, knew everything about fashion, and had met at least one movie star. It took a few months for my peers to realize I wasn’t quite as sophisticated or knowledgeable as they had imagined. But I still wasn’t a country kid because I’d never raised a pig or calf, my parents didn’t own property, and I didn’t belong to FFA or 4H. I think most people eventually came to accept that I was comfortable with just about anyone and any situation.
I always loved stories about contrasting lifestyles: The City Mouse and the Country Mouse, The Prince and the Pauper. I could see the virtues of either side. I could understand the dilemma of choosing where and how to live the best life. I loved the library and escalators and the mall and the Chinese department store when we lived in the city. But I also loved rabbits and the smell of wood smoke and the feel of dirt beneath my bare feet.
My crazy childhood taught me a lot about being flexible and fitting in, about adjusting and learning and adapting. The lessons have served me well in life. I consider myself a country woman, but the city doesn’t intimidate me. I can visit and enjoy the excitement. I can admire the architecture. I can appreciate the choices and the variety and the entertainment. I love a good museum. I adore live theater. I’m fascinated by “people watching”.
But eventually I must go home to the peace and serenity that serves me best. The constant noise and frenetic pace of the city doesn’t suit my heart or soul. I most enjoy the company of animals and the beauty of nature. I have always been an introspective person who needs a lot of time alone. I guess I am a country kid after all.