This is the driving we do these days, on this two-lane road, one or two cars in front, one or two cars in the rear mirror. The sun shines more often than not, and the air is crisp and clean and smelling of fresh pine or seafoam, all day and all night.
I've escaped to this. I'm sane because of this. I'm in a constant state of reverie and contemplation and gratitude. There is no Heaven for me. I'm already there. How I longed for this all the years we lived in a congested city where even going to the supermarket meant a sure trauma or sorts. Someone would certainly take your parking place just as you were about to pull into it; someone would scrape your car while you were shopping and leave without notifying you; someone out there was always invading your viewfinder.
I always thought that we couldn't have lived here before retirement. My children needed certain benefits that we couldn't have provided without good jobs. My husband's job was highly specialized-his research work was not something he could do here. Our salaries afforded us a beautiful house, in a classy neighborhood, and bought tickets to the theater, dinner at up-and-coming restaurants, and opportunities all around us. Our mortgage, our car payments, our fees, needs, particular services specialized to city living, all those expenses kept us looking for ways to advance, get promotions, obtain bigger salaries to keep experiencing more and more things.
Everything we had in the city we can have here with just a few adaptations, such as traveling longer distances, driving three hours to see great theater in Ashland from the resident Shakespearean Company; drive further and stay a couple of nights in Portland to see and hear theater, opera, symphony, great indie groups. With a little enterprising, we could have lived here and adjusted our lifestyle. Our boys could still have pursued their science studies, and our girl, her arts program. Sure, competitions and variables would not be the same. A city tests you in different ways, but a city's biggest advantage is the seemingly endless opportunities that keep people searching and searching all the time.
My folks were country folks. The three of us, my brothers and I, all flew the nest as soon as we could to find our fortunes. Yet, in our old age, each of us looked for those things we had growing up, things we understood, things that nurtured us, and kept us whole.