city or country? why she’s no mouse at all!

by carolee bennett

i went to a psychic once on a solo trip to salem, massachusetts. she did the usual surmising — what was in store for me for money, love, home, etc. but she also repeated variations on two things: the “bigness” of my energy… and its utter chaos. i think she was right about a couple of her predictions on finances and relationships, but i remember the commentary about my energy most because it felt true.

i’ve always been subject to many competing — and often very opposite — internal forces. usually, the one that wins out isn’t the one with an identifiable (translation: sensible) set of pro’s outweighing con’s. instead, it’s the one that won’t be denied. its urge is so powerful it knocks me over. it refuses to release my mind/heart to thoughts of anything else until i’ve chosen it.

i won’t bother to argue its (in)sanity, but it is one way of being in the world.

***

is carolee a city mouse or a country mouse? (if you believe people who know her, you’d say she’s no mouse at all, ha ha!) three different people have brought it up in three separate conversations in the last five days. i’m no good at math, but there’s a message there: girl, you ought to think about that!

i should preface it by saying i already know the answer: i’m both a city girl and a country girl. (spoken like someone with chaotic energy, right?) when i grew up in the country (lincoln, maine, of “stinkin’ lincoln” paper mill fame), i craved the opposite. i wanted “big city” living. i’d never find my path to the big city, but i did make my way (via my then fiance) to albany in the mid-nineties. at that time, i wasn’t really into downtown at all and hated the apartment we lived in on morris street. so when it came time to move, we craved the opposite. we wanted a life in the country. after living in the country with him and our kids for 13 or 14  years and it became clear that we were splitting, i needed to make a big change. the big change included a move from the country back downtown.

so that’s the backstory. why is city vs. country coming into play now? i’m not exactly sure. sitting on my stoop last week, a friend said she really thought me to be a cabin-in-the-woods kind of girl. my boyfriend, whom you’ll hear me sometimes call “the country boy,” seems to really think i’m a city girl. “if things keep going well,” he said yesterday. “we’re going to have to sort out this city-country thing.”

i live downtown now because it’s what was best for me and the boys at the time i left my husband, and it’s what’s best for us now. i wanted to expose the boys to a different way of living and to greater diversity. i wanted to show them that community exists everywhere (we bump into more people we know downtown than we ever did out in the ‘burbs/country). i wanted to show them how to take advantage of the arts and museums and festivals and cafes and parks. i wanted them to see that they can walk to get to things instead of piling in the car every time they want to go somewhere. and for me? i couldn’t imagine living alone out in the country: to heal from the separation, i needed to avoid isolation. i knew that for sure. and i needed to start over completely.

when he brought it up, i told the country boy that i was just working the city out of my system. i’m not sure that’s the best way to say it, though. i guess what i mean is that the city meets my needs right now, but it may not always. as much as i’m having a love affair with life downtown at the moment, i’ve always been able to see the romance of a quiet spot in the country. some day, maybe that’ll be what i need.

that’s the benefit of a chaotic energy: you get to try it all out. i can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a straight line.