Country/City Girl

Cover of "Sweet Home Alabama"

Cover of Sweet Home Alabama

“My life in New York works, Jake. But then I come down here… and this fits too.”~ Melanie Smooter (Reese Witherspoon) in Sweet Home Alabama

That line is one of the only movie lines I remember clearly. The feeling of being, simultaneously, a small town gal and a city girl is one that I relate to very well. Only… without the abandoned husband bit…

I grew up in small town Ontario, raised in a community of 25,496 people (in 2006) spread over approximately 1,000 square kilometers. I was in for quite the culture shock when I move to Montreal. Alone.

The Island of Montreal, according to wikipedia, had 1,620,693 inhabitants in 2006 on an island about 1,600 square kilometers in size. The sheer amount of people crammed into a space I was used to seeing used for farm land and forests was one of the biggest culture shocks I could image. Yes, I’d been to Toronto – a metropolitan spread over far more square kilometers – but I’d never lived there. Just visited. I wasn’t visiting when I moved here. That would require a complete redefinition of the word “moved.”

Now, after 7 years in Montreal, I love the city. The lights and noise don’t bother me. On the contrary, when I visit my parents, the absolute silence and the complete and utter darkness of the evening – except for the very rare and occasional passing vehicle on the main road outside my parents place – make it difficult for me to sleep.

The first night.

Then my old country sensibilities kick in and I sleep like a baby for the rest of my stay. Montreal has become my home; it took 4 of the 7 years for me to settle in, but here I am. Loving ever day of the fast-paced life only a city can provide.

But, then I go to my hometown. I sit in the stillness of the country and stare at the beauty of nature. In the evenings, I gaze with longing at the star speckled sky, the bright pin points that seem to freckle the very face of night. These sights, the fresh air, the chirping crickets – I miss them when I’m in the city… but I never realize just how much until I’m home again. They are my past, my childhood come to life in the present. They are comfort, love, warmth… well, not so much warmth in the winter when it’s minus 30… But these are familiar and lovely to me.

However, in a twisted, torturous turn of events, while I’m in the country, I miss the city. I miss being able to walk across the street and get a doughnut or buy groceries. While I’m a ten minute drive from civilization, I miss being a five minute walk from the nearest book/grocery/clothing store. The city is where my social life is; where I can grow as a person and become the successful entrepreneur I hope to eventually become. The connections I need, have been or will be made in the city. Not in the country, unfortunately.

Granted, when I look 10+ years down the road, I’m living in the country, potentially my home town. But by then it won’t be the same place I grew up in. More and more city folk (yes I just wrote that) are being pulled toward my beautiful peaceful country and are bringing their city ways with them. Large houses that ten families could live in are their cottages. Box stores are taking over, pushing some of the home-grown, locally owned business out of the way.

For instance, the biggest town is currently receiving a Pharmaprix (that’s Shoppers Drug Mart for all those outside of Quebec)… where is the Pharmaprix going? Less than a block away from a PharmaPlus – a store that serves the exact same purpose. This town had a population of 3,705 in 2008 (I think, the source didn’t provide a date, just that the number was obtained from MPAC – and the last assessment notice from them was in 2008… so I deduced. And digress). What could 3,705 people need with two large stores that serve as groceries, pharmacies and general stores? Not to mention that on the same block there are two other grocery stores and five minutes down the street there is a No Frills!

Ahem. Sorry. That is just some repressed astonishment at the changes being made in my small, peaceful hometown.

My point, that I lost a bit in the middle there, is that I love both city and country life. I want both. In order to have both, I need to be one of the city folk I so abhor. I need to build a cottage (though I probably won’t build a mansion, just a nice little 3 bedroom house on the coast somewhere… secluded from the rest of the world with a forest of trees…) And that will be my summer home. I would then return to the city for the fall/winter months and enjoy a life of bustle in my 4 1/2 condo…

Ah the dream….

I guess for now I will continue to be this dual person with ties to both worlds… the ties pull a little at times, urging me into one world or the other, but they are manageable. When they become unmanageable, when I can no longer maintain the dualistic identity, then… then I will have to choose – will I be a country gal or a city girl?

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3 responses to “Country/City Girl

  1. Great post, Lisa. Why can’t you be both a city and a country girl? I’m a big city girl, born and raised in Montreal, but I’ve always had a bit of country in me. My Dad is a farm boy from Nova Scotia, so his country ways brought us to our family cottage in the Laurentians. I’ve been going up there regularly for 25 of my 30 years and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, embrace both worlds since they each make you who you are.

    • Thanks Robyn! I guess I’m still working on embracing both simultaneously. It’s awesome to know that I’m not the only one who is country and city.

  2. It’s awesome that you have the option to get away from the city when you get tired of it. I think you’re a country gal at heart and always will be no matter where you end up living.

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