Living in Nowhere

Lessons learned from abandoning life in the city.

Photo Credit: Myself

The coffee drips into the pot at what I imagine is a turtle’s pace. I’m not quite awake yet as I stand in the kitchen waiting. Warmth seeps through the entryway from the fireplace in the living room. Iowa’s overnight freezing temps have been threatening snow for over a week now. After three years of living here I’ve become accustomed to a white Halloween.

It’s hours before sunrise, four hours to be exact. I crashed early last night. I exhausted myself preparing the yard for the frigid and desolate winter months.

I cleared leaves that fell from the trees by quite possibly the thousands and dug trenches to lift the roots of plants in the garden that had grown taller than my height back in July, harvesting enough produce to last my family until next harvest season with crock-potted meals ready to eat and vegetables steamed, sauteed or grilled and stored in the freezer.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with buckets full of tomatoes and 100 pounds of zucchini. All that’s left growing as the earth cools is lavender, strawberries and broccoli.

Today will be much of the same as I work my way down the never ending list of things to do. For now, I’ll savor the quiet as I sit in front of the blaze of the fire and write until the sun rises.

Once I’m finished I’ll do my daily chores and take a power nap in efforts to rejuvenate before taking on more solid tasks. There’s still an acre of grass that needs weed and feed and I have yet to backwash and repair the pump for the hot tub.

If I plan it right I’ll be able to catch a shower before my family and I sit down to dinner. There’s something about a vigorous, hot shower after a hard day of work. Especially in autumn when my ear lobes and finger tips sting from the cold. Steam fills the air, water ricochets off my skin and muck takes on a spiral motion before vanishing down the drain.

There will be tidbits of time in between to work on a set of commissioned landscape sketches and to sneak in a chapter of a book. This is my life now, entirely different than the life I led when I lived in the city.

At first it was a culture shock and I questioned my ability to adapt out here in nowhere. After the first year I still struggled. I traded an office job for a hands on lifestyle, chaos for an orchestra of crickets, dumpsters for barrels of trash frequently raided by possums and raccoons, a three bedroom townhouse in the center of all the action for a 100 year old, four story, six bedroom farmhouse and Starbucks for store bought beans purchased on our last trip into the city for supplies.

Days became months and before my eyes seasons change. The years go by. At times I feel lonely and other times I feel grateful to be detached from the rest of the world.

What’s in the news today? My husband asks each day when he arrives home from his job at the local, 20 bed community hospital 15 miles south of us through the cornfields.

I have no idea, I respond because I don’t. I haven’t opened my laptop or looked at my cellphone for hours. There hasn’t been the need to. I look back now and realize I’ve become this person who focuses on only what I can control. Not in a sense where I must control things but from a place where Trump’s latest wanna be Jerry Springer episode has no place in nature and solitude. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned from unreservedly abandoning life in the city.

There are many lessons I’ve learned since moving to nowhere. Everything here is utterly new. We work for what we have. This is similar to life in the city but working for what we had then meant working for money to buy things such as materialistic items, conveniences and luxuries.

Out here everyone is MacGyver. Making do with what we have and wearing coveralls and flannel in the process. Skirts and high heels have been retired.

All I have is time. There isn’t traffic or road rage, or freeway shooters where drivers continue to travel on the freeway regardless. In the city they have things to do and places to be, you know? Out here farmers drive ten miles per hour under the speed limit in their worn down pickup trucks. No one, in nowhere is hastened.

The librarian knows our entire family by name. Tractors roar and people greet me good day as I walk down into the town square for the bi-weekly town meeting where we make major decisions about major things such as the water supply and annual town wide events.

What few businesses there are, all mom and pop shops passed down for generations close for the weekend. Saturday is intended for family time and Sunday is for church and rest with the exception of the community pancake breakfast with the mayor.

I’ve learned things are simple here, reverting back to the old days where fire warms our house, planting seeds grow our food and internet is not considered a necessity. Where reading books and newspapers in print is a lifestyle and not nostalgia. Where manual labor takes the place of a gym membership.

There are no restaurants for dining other than the truck stop out by the interstate. Date night’s are sitting close to one another while basking in the moon light as it reflects off the pond. Cocktail hour is now drinking wine from the local winery in my backyard after a day’s workout of both body and mind, sipped as slow as the sun sets in the horizon as I watch its colors fade into a scene of a postcard.

All of these lessons have been life altering but none compare with the realization that in this vast world places such as nowhere still exist, every day isn’t a rat race, ingenuity triumphs over financial wealth and communities can thrive when they come together and stand united outside of political rivalry.

Perhaps some day I’ll return to life in the city but as of right now my roots are growing deeper than the garden. There’s an unexplainable reason why a way of life I knew nothing about has come to feel like the home I was meant to have.

I don’t question it, though. Instead I pause to watch the geese take flight to a warmer destination and then I return to chopping enough wood to keep the fireplace burning bright throughout the night.

Reporter based in Eastern Iowa. Pro- equality. Anti- AR15. My hobbies include emotional eating, petting cats, hibernating and farming.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store