Four Days in the Country

I just returned home from four days in the country...with the parents. My dad had open heart surgery two weeks ago and he's recovering at home. I couldn't get home sooner because of Storm Sandy and the shit storm that was transportation in New York City. He's doing well and I'm glad I got to spend time with him. But I'm more glad to be home in the city because things, well, are very different in the country. 

The not-so-good parts of country-living:

Yard work. There was raking.

Then snow shoveling.

Mom and Dad's backyard

I can see why people don't go to the gym as often as city folk because that shit is seriously exhausting. 

Running errands by car across four different towns took me more than three hours. I had to go inside a bank to make a deposit for my parents. I did not know that people still go inside banks and that other people work in them. 

People out here make outlet shopping a hobby. Everything is always 40% off, and yet there is always a mad rush to buy things you don't like or need. "But it was on sale!" You'll say to people who look at you funny when wear that ugly dress.

The outlet parking lot was completely full. I drove around in circles wasting my life away, until I finally spotted a nice family to slowly stalk in my dad's car to wait for their space. Stalking in the city - a no-no. Stalking in the suburbs - a necessity. Best to stalk in a Prius because its engine is so quiet no one will hear you coming.

Obviously, I bought about a ton of things I don't need at the Gap outlet and paid less than a hundred dollars. I won't lie: it felt good. 

I went to bed before 10pm every night and woke up before 8am. This NEVER happens in the city. The darkness in the country, even though I grew up with it, is blinding and scary. The good part is the stars in the night sky. I could gaze at them for hours.

The best parts of country-living:

Grandma's pot roast

I ate dinner with my grandparents at their house. We had pot roast and a green salad homemade by Grandma and copious amounts of red wine on the side. She gave me a bag of chilli peppers grown in her garden. They are almost 90 and still live alone and cook for themselves. When I remind myself of this I am truly amazed. Will I live until 90 and if I do will I still have my shit together? 

When our conversation turned to storm talk they reminisced about the great hurricane of 1938 that was worse than Sandy, they said, because it rained for five days straight. They were teenagers and in school when the storm arrived. But no one cancelled school, my grandpa laughed, he and his friends walked home in it. Through a park with giant elm trees.

He laughed again.

We lost power but it hardly mattered. We still had a log stove and read books and went to bed by 8pm anyway, my grandma said. There was no TV, no iphones, no laptops.

People didn't make a big deal about storms back then.

The Game of Life


I found the game of "Life" from my youth this weekend in my parent's basement covered in dust wedged between "Clue Master Detective" and "Outburst". I resisted the urge to pack these games in a suitcase and take them back to my tiny Brooklyn apartment. Just for the memories they could bring back if I saw them on my bookshelf.

My cousin's daughters ages 5 and 7 had wanted to play a board game. They recognized it immediately because they have the new version at home which, according to their mother, is bigger and glitzier and of course in 3-D (just like "real" life).

Playing this game felt like taking a trip in a time machine back to the humid summers of my youth during those couple of weeks when my cousins visited from Pennsylvania. We played every outdoor and indoor game possible, did gymnastics on the lawn, wrote and performed skits, and still whined to our parents that we were bored.

By that point the only thing left to do was put our faces really close to the giant standing fan talking into it so our voices sounded like Darth Vader from Star Wars. No, there was no such thing as central air in my childhood and I didn't care.

My cousin's younger daughter asked me which color car I wanted to be. "Blue, please." The girls told me to go first and as I was about to spin** the wheel of Life, the 5 yr old said "Now we have to find husbands." She pointed to our three cars with lone pink stick people, the "women". We lacked the blue stick people or the "men".

I wanted to shake her and shout "No! You don't have a find a husband. Only if you want to. You don't need one to have a wonderful life." But she's 5 and that would have been creepy. 

It was enlightening to play the game of "Life" as an adult who is living real life and has experienced many things on the board like going to college and graduate school, renting an apartment, paying bills etc. Like real life, sometimes you take two steps forward and sometimes you take one step back. Other times you get to skip ahead. But you always learn something along the way.

I've learned that you don't NEED a blue stick person in your life. If you WANT one you should look for one but you should WANT the right one for you, the one that complements you - not completes you. You should strive to be complete with yourself as the pink stick person in the driver's seat.

**After four spins I found a husband - but not before I became a doctor and won the lottery.