Finding 'the life for me' in the city

Reading about people pulling up stakes in the city and moving to more bucolic environs (see story at right), I found myself humming the theme song to an old sitcom called "Green Acres." In it, a high-powered Manhattan lawyer decides that "farm living is the life for me," while his glamorous wife declares, "New York is where I'd rather be."

From summers on my grandparents' farm, I know the downsides of the rural lifestyle. But I also remember the sense of peace I felt as I waded in a gurgling creek or sat, reading, beneath a tall pine.

That feeling is what most of us long for when we aren't happy where we currently live.

Five years ago, I would've called "peace and quiet" the prime attributes of my ideal neighborhood. Yet, I find myself living in the city, where there's a cacophony of noise 24 hours a day.

In my previous country home, I became annoyed when cars drove by with radios blaring. Now, they're so commonplace that I rarely notice them. I smile to think that I let myself be bothered by lawn mowers or leaf blowers being used before 9 on weekend mornings. Now, I'm tolerant of skateboarders at 4 a.m.

I've become a convert to the convenience of the city, which is the tradeoff for the quietness of the country. I'm five minutes' walk from work, the post office, two grocery stores, several dry cleaners, a drugstore, the symphony, church, a hardware store - and so many restaurants I could dine somewhere new each day of the year.

I can't imagine going back to spending countless hours in my car, driving from place to place. But should it happen, I won't be miserable - as long as I remember what I'm learning in the city: My happiness doesn't depend on where I live.

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