Rural living means driving a lot. A lot. As my former boss told me: Oh, 45 minutes? That’s like down the street in Maine.
I somehow, through sheer will and a bit of big-city luck, haven’t owned a car until now. 27 years isn’t a bad track record for car-avoidance. Now, however, this is a big part of my view each day:
Honestly, it has taught me a few things already: Maine DJs have a deep, abiding love for Sting, squirrels are completely, utterly unpredictable, and sometimes a drive with the windows down is the only time I take good, deep breaths. Although I’m still not used to driving each day, roaming the far reaches of our county has made me feel a bit more like I know its contours, ridges and back roads.
Another crucial aspect of driving is the wave. In my book you always wave: to the woman walking the horse on the road, to the old man who seems to have made it his job to stand and stare at all the “traffic” (see above, that’s his spot), even to the lycra-loving, bearded cyclist. Most of the time I get a wave back, albeit at times a confused one. Most people still don’t know who I am.
By driving, I am trying to break through my anonymity here. It is by driving down new roads, discovering a rambling shack that sells fresh chicken eggs, or Frank who sells bicycles (and…anything, it seems) on the side of Highway 26, that I make new connections.
As small as this town is, connections can be hard. It takes a surprising boldness to insert yourself into a pretty established social scene (I use the term “scene” liberally). I think by transforming the little things I do into an effort at forging those ties, hopefully soon I’ll feel more at home.