Friday, June 01, 2007

I'm small town now

Yesterday I got to thinking about how much I love living in this town. We've been here for almost two years and the feeling snuck up on me; it wasn't always like this.

Jim and I lived here for nine months shortly after we got married, and I was convinced that I had landed in the sixth ring of hell. For one thing, we both had terrible jobs. Jim worked at KFC until he got fired for giving me and his mom free soda pop. I worked at a dairy/espresso stand for $5 an hour plus tips, schlepping lattés and icecream, gaining 50 pounds, and getting up at obscene hours to work shifts the college kids wouldn't. After Jim got fired, that was our only income. We were living in a trailer in my in-laws' back yard. Because they were building their house, my inlaws also lived in a trailer—ours had the working toilet, and theirs had the working shower. It was a hard time for me and Jim individually, as well as for our relationship with each other. Perhaps the only good things that can be said of it are that I learned how to sheetrock walls, I met Gertie, and Jim and I managed to survive with our marriage intact.

In hindsight we jokingly refer to it as our "trailer trash year", but at the time it was brutal. When we finally escaped to the west side of the mountains, high-paying jobs, and the UW, I was convinced that I would never go back. I grew up in Seattle and I'll always love it: the lush landscape, Puget Sound, lots of memories—even the notorious rain, for which I cherish a wistful nostalgia, especially during the icy span between November and April. But... after nine years of the rat race, I came to believe that Seattle's a great place to visit.

So last night I was in a rather reflective frame of mind and started thinking about what it was that brought me back. And those thoughts distilled became a poem.

This Is More

A city girl moving back from small town life
I dreamed of more:
more shopping, education, jobs, friends, choices—
not feeling trapped
when I left, I got more:
more pollution, pretension, traffic, obligations, stress—
knowing I was trapped
I thought it a pittance
to purchase happy convenience
and paid a soul-sucking decade
until a brief visit
had me descending again
past well-ordered patchwork fields
into this vivid green valley
through rolled-down window
I caught and remembered
fresh cow smell
softened by mellow just-cut hay
after a single day
I knew what I most missed:
majestic Milky Way
winding its celestial dance
over my lowly backyard
library, store, fairgrounds
park, pool, post office
all in a one-mile walk
that slow, sure pace
of twenty miles per hour
down Main Street
my own home-sewn dress
winning a lime-and-yellow judge’s choice
county fair ribbon
so many slanted-sunshine
lazy lawnmower afternoons
unfettered by urban urgency
and yes, fresh cow.

Did I mention I’m home again?
this is more.


lemon square said...

sounds wonderful. i think i would love it- except the fresh cow. that would take some getting used to.

chicklegirl said...

Oh, fresh cow isn't like stale cow. It's actually a nice smell. Stale cow is really disgusting, and I'm not remotely a fan of that.

chckkysmile said...

I really miss you now.
Please, come to my graduation?

chicklegirl said...

Hey, cutie! Yes, we're going to go! I think the boys may go to the zoo because Jimmy will have a very hard time sitting through the ceremony, but I'll be there, and then all of us for the after party!