Over the weekend we made an overnight visit to friends who live in West Brookfield, a very pretty, very small town out in the middle of the state. Their house is on five acres at the end of a long driveway, and they regularly get coyotes, foxes, deer, and other wildlife as visitors in their yard. We ate, drank, talked, and relaxed. We took a walk in the snow, in spite of the cold, and even the dog seemed to enjoy herself--she doesn't like to walk at home because other dogs in the neighborhood make her nervous. (Yes, she is a pathetic, 60-pound sissy-dog.)
It's only a 90-minute drive from our house to theirs, but it's such a striking contrast to living in the city or just outside it, as we do. If I could drive, I wouldn't mind living somewhere less urban, though not necessarily as rural as "camp," as our friends refer to their place. And as much as the Mrs. enjoys nature, animals, and getting away from things, I could tell that even after only 24 hours, she was getting a little bored with all that peace and quiet.
Sure, we have cable and TiVo and Netflix and everything else, and we could have all that no matter where we lived (our friends can't get cable, but they have DirecTV), but sometimes you just want to go out and do something, and that's where the differences come into focus. If they want to go see a movie, they have to drive 40 minutes to Amherst or Northampton or Worcester; from our house, we can get to either the Capitol, the Somerville Theatre, or the Revere Showcase in about 15 minutes. They have one pizza place and one Chinese place; the pizza place delivers, the Chinese place doesn't. The choices for sit-down dining are bound to be limited in a town with only 1600 residents; again, satisfaction is at the other end of a lengthy car ride. Hell, it's ten miles from their house to the liquor store.
As with everything else in life, it's a tradeoff: what you get in exchange for what you are willing to give up. As we were driving home Sunday evening, slipping through the city on the Turnpike, the Mrs. gestured outside the car and said, "See, I would miss this too much." I knew exactly what she meant.