My grandma lived in Jesup, Iowa. Jesup, Iowa – as if living in Iowa wasn’t isolating enough. On the way into town, there’s this sign. It says something like, “6 churches, 2 schools, 1 library, 9 bars, 4 parks, and all the friends you need.” I might be making that last bit up, but it should’ve said that if it didn’t. I always found that sign to be a little odd, but in a funny-sad way. Someone designed that sign and someone paid for it, after all. For bragging purposes, I assume. I can imagine the mayor of the town traveling to the big city (Waterloo, actually) and vehemently letting those around him know that oh, no, no, no, he’s the mayor of a town that has 9 bars – and there’s a sign to prove it.
And now I’m moving to West Jefferson, North Carolina. West Jefferson, North Carolina. A town that has almost exactly half the amount of people that Jesup, Iowa has. Makes me wonder if they have 3 churches, 1 school, a non-fiction section, 4 bars and a drive-thru liquor window, 2 parks, and half the friends you need. I’m sure at this point it’s pretty safe to say that only one word is running through my head at this point, and it starts with “F.”
I mean, sort of. Half of me knows I take the Bay Area for granted. Heck, right now I could walk to four different Starbucks without breaking a sweat. If I wanted to start a gluten-free, no-carb diet, I could do it. Surround myself with Teslas? Not a problem. It’s the same half that hears my aunts in the back of my head warning me about republicans and hillbillies. It’s the same half that’s worried about my current addiction to Yogurtland. It’s the same half that came from Iowa and still can’t get over the concept of an outside mall.
Then there’s the half of me that can’t fucking wait. No more walking down the street, passing men in loafers drinking skinny #pumpkinspicelattes. No more hours spent in traffic. No more exorbitant rent prices for shitholes full of dead ants in leftover Minute Maid bottles. You know why there are no men in loafers drinking PSLs walking down the street in West Jefferson? Well, for two reasons: 1) they’re not wearing loafers, and 2) because the nearest Starbucks is 32 minutes away. THIRTY-TWO. That’s gotta be close to the record (I looked. It’s not). And as for the no traffic thing, well, if no one’s around, it means I won’t have to face off with that many hillbillies or republicans, does it, Aunt Rosemary?
So come Wednesday, I’m trading the glitz and glamour of palm trees, tech start-ups, and Cardinal Red for back roads, Cheerwine, and Tar Heels (whatever those are). In order to make money and avoid finding work at the local Piggly Wiggly, I'm starting a pool on just how long I'll last. I'll give you good odds on anywhere from six months to forever. Any takers?