You will be shocked to hear that I am still having FEEEEELINGS.
Invariable, when I meet new people here, they ask where I moved from. "Cold State," I say, "but I'm from Virginia." And then, invariably, I feel... off balance. Like a lego tower built by a two-year-old. I want people to know I'm a Southerner, even though I'm also kind-of-not a Southerner. (Some part of me also wants to skip the inevitable "The South isn't that bad/ this is a nice place to live/ you'll get used to it/ here are the local attractions/ the South is great" conversation that otherwise ensues.) I want them to know that, although I have largely rejected the perfomative femininity and gender roles that stereotype the South, I do know where it's coming from; that I don't think cows are 'sooo cute'; and that my desire to, one day, keep chickens is grounded by a full knowledge of how smelly and bird-witted they are.
I want a purpose in life beyond herding around a screamy, screamy 4-year-old (seriously, not a day goes by without him throwing tantrums for at least an hour) and making more jam than we can possibly eat. Even with the people I already know, I feel like I'm failing at negotiating friendships in an equitable and mutually agreeable fashion. (I'm probably not. I'm probably just full of woe.)
I feel like a round peg in a square hole. In Cold State, I worked at the bicycle company with a bunch of overeducated nerds. In other words, I fit right in. Here, I think my back brain wished I'd find more kindred spirits in a rural area full of PhDs. But it turns out there's the same distribution of fairly-well-educated wackaloons here as anywhere else. The nice woman who bakes her own bread also thinks echinacea tincture will cure her chronic infection. The outdoorsy person who hikes and hunts has a magical amber necklace on her kiddo. The women with PhDs are all professors with full-time jobs. The hippie-ish lady who just planted her first garden seems nice enough. The vet who stays home with her kids, and whose favorite website is PubMed, seems both nice and smart. But I need to give it time, to let relationships grow organically, to not push it.
I would also like to note that Rural County here is stuck in 1998, and has not yet discovered the Internet, and therefore the main way to hear about things is by signs posted on fences,* or people telling you, or occasionally the classified ads or the extremely-local paper. I am not making this up. (Mountain Town does have an events website, but a) it is incomplete and b) usually the events suffer from not having a schedule online. No, I do not want to call the number provided. I want to look it up on the fucking internet.)
BUT. These feelings are accompanied by a natural reluctance to invest too much effort and emotional energy in relationships here. What are the chances we'll still be here next year? I HAVE NO IDEA.** To be honest, there is a part of me trying to reject it (it's so hick! I can't get anything!) just so I won't be disappointed. And there's another part of me that really likes how we can go watch the horsieeeees where horsies mama? more horsies? where tractor?? every weekend, and having beautiful fresh eggs, and the monthly bluegrass jam full of very sweet retirees, and the hilarious sixty-something farmers and their honeybees.
SO MANY FEEEEELINGS.
* No, really.
** While Belle astutely pointed out that everyone's lives are full of job-related uncertainty, still, a one-year contract practically guarantees you'll be fired. So! It's a SPECIAL kind of certainty!