Last week, The H and I had an invitation to go to my parents’ house for the weekend in rural Iowa. My dad had guy plans for The H, a couple of my uncles, and a cousin of mine. Mom watched me chop my hair off and was a great shopping date. We saw two sets of friends and I ran into two of my college roommates. I ran a route with hills, which I hated, but masochistically loved. Any chance I get go to home, I take. Because of my job situation, I usually can finagle it so that I can easily make it a 3-4 day weekend. Because of The H’s job situation, he can work remotely and will set up shop in an empty room/closet/office at my dad’s school. It really is a pretty sweet situation. I spent 4 days in the quiet, sunny Iowa spring. Glorious.
People make fun of Iowa. We’re all a bunch of farmer’s that grow potatoes…no? Corn? As the popular T-shirt company Raygun says, “Iowa. 75% vowels, 100% awesome.”
My typical response to people who are like, “Oh, Iowa…” as they look with pity and judgement is, “Yeah, but before Iowa I lived in South Dakota and Wyoming.” I’ll take your judgement and raise you 2 states! Yes, there are pros to waking up on a plot of farm land…even with the smell. Yes, there are cons to living in Chicago (gasp!).
I’m proud that I have lived in such a variety of locations, Minneapolis and Chicago being the largest. Montezuma, Iowa being the smallest. Pella, Knoxville, Iowa City, Northfield, Custer, and Newcastle all somewhere in between. It has made me adaptable and appreciative of many different ways of living. I know the regional or community stereotypes aren’t scripture to live by. (Although, there are always your token community members who proudly suit up in every stereotypical outfit in their closet.)
I want to share with you, over a series of posts, some of my observations of rural and city living. I am not an expert (well, I kind of am actually), and these are just my opinions based off a near 30 years of experience. I’m not asking you to drink my Kool-Aid; I don’t even know what flavor of Kool-Aid I’m drinking! I think I have a fair perspective and just remember that I’m the girl who, growing up, drove 90 minutes to get a Happy Meal and thought moving to a town of 50,000 would make her world end.
Rural: My motto has always been 60 miles in 60 minutes. Sure, I have to drive to Des Moines for Target, but that also means a Target run usually has a purpose. And while that purpose is inevitably sidetracked because that is what Targs does, you don’t just “run to Target.”
There is always parking, do I even have to defend that? No, but I will. Who wants to get home from work and spend 30 minutes driving around your own neighborhood looking for a parking spot? Not me, which is one of the many reasons why we don’t live “in” the city. I realize we could live in a more suburban area and parking wouldn’t be as much of an issue, yet the issue of commuting would still remain and The H would have hours on the train everyday. And let’s be honest, he would much rather spend that time with ME.
On open roads in Iowa, semi-drivers make some bone-headed moves, but nothing compared to these characters in Chicago who literally want you to hit them. It always cracks me up that the Des Moines news stations have a “traffic” report for the morning rush. Rural driving makes you severely impatient when you even have to tap your breaks or you have to sit at a stoplight more than two cycles.
City: In 60 minutes I might go 6 miles (or less?!?!). Can I stop there? No? Ok, I’ll get back on my soapbox.
Garages that come with your apartment/condo/home/closet in our price range are hard to come by. Private parking, well it just costs more than we’re willing to pay for my
beast lovely car to sit overnight. So street parking it is, along with my rudimentary parallel parking skills. Which brings me to another bonus of rural driving you don’t need to parallel park. In fact, I didn’t even learn to parallel park in Driver’s Ed. Thank you Mr. VanHorn.
I know you’ve been waiting to say, “Yes, but there is this wonderful thing called the CTA.” The train/bus system is very nice and convenient. You still don’t really get anywhere much faster; you can just teach yourself Portuguese, read, or cryptically people watch behind your sunglasses. The best part I would actually argue is the walkability to most things I need on a regular basis. Our trips to the pump are minimal and of course this is a positive thing. Plus, when I need to drive a good distance away from our community, I can usually time it to avoid most high-traffic hours (half point for underemployment), so those trips to Target take me 20 minutes to go 13 miles, which is a nice improvement from my first sentence of the first paragraph of this
Next up on the Rural-City Debate: Food.
Until then I leave you with the views from my parents’ porch and our porch. They’re basically the same.