I was raised in Manhattan and only left it because I was dragged away by my former husband and his determination to Go West, Young Man. I've been in the suburbs of Seattle for nearly ten years now, and still feel a lot like the Eva Gabor character in Green Acres, only I'm not quite as thin and haven't been blond since college.
I don't fit in here, and probably never will, but I've accepted my fate and learned to live with it, although I reserve the right to whine about it, especially during the dark, long, rainy days of winter. What else is there to do, other than eat, read, and whine? Probably something, but heck if I can figure it out.
So, when I ran across the title At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, I realized immediately it was a book I needed to read. Finally, I thought - there's someone who understands!
The book is brilliant, covering every aspect of life outside the big city thathas befuddled me for the past decade, to wit:
Weather: Michigan winter is endless - piles and piles of snow and more snow, but even more disturbing, endless conversations about various weather phenomena that you are supposed to a) understand, and b) find interesting. Lake effect snow? Really? I appreciated the author's description of sitting there and writing "stop fucking snowing" over and over, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Change "snow" to "rain" and welcome to my life.
Night Life: When the author goes out to experience the local nightlife, he finds himself being hit on by women (he's gay) and singing karaoke in a country western bar. Been there, done that (except for the gay part).
Making Friends: People outside the city have dramatically different interests than urban types, which makes building relationships challenging. Rouse describes the thrill he gets when they first meet "people who have hobbies that don't require ammunition." Eventually, he and his partner befriend a couple whose hobby is carving elaborate wooden fans, and when they spend an evening together, just listening and being neighborly, he reflects on how pleasant it is in contrast to some of his previous urban evenings, with dinner partners trying constantly to impress or outdo each other.
I enjoyed the book overall - it was screamingly funny at times. Much of the time, actually. It took me on an odd journey as Rouse wavers between embracing what he recognizes as great about the rural life and its people, and fighting to hang on to what has been his identity for so long. It was a fun trip.
As for me, I am hoping Seattle's winter rain will come to an end fairly soon. I thought I would spend the dark, long, rainy, winter days reading, but in fact I'm just going a bit crazy, although I'm not quite at the Jack-Nicholson-in-The-Shining stage.
26 books down, 24 to go!