Country and city

It’s a familiar story for most of us, especially readers and movie-watchers: the city transplant landing in the country. Whether due to a witness-protection mandate (“Did You Hear About The Morgans?”), a mid-life crisis (“City Slickers”) or to avoid the IRS (“For Richer Or Poorer”), sending city folk to live among their country kin is usually a recipe for hilarity.

While I’m not strictly a city girl, I have grown up close to Washington, D.C. — and always feel more metro than country. Some kids in my suburban town drive tractors around the family farm, sure, and you’re likely to spot Southern Maryland’s agricultural roots on a drive through the tri-county corridor. But for the most part? All the country-music-listenin’, yeehaw-shoutin’ camaraderie hasn’t always endeared me to a slower-paced lifestyle. I didn’t relate to it.

I love London. And New York. And San Francisco. I used to feel at ease navigating subway maps and late-night diners, climbing in elevators to the tops of skyscrapers. Soaking up urban landscapes. People-watching in parks. But though I love visiting cities, they’ve started to make me anxious. The busy sidewalks turn chaotic. Waiting in line for restaurants becomes frustrating. The constant din, the close quarters . . . all make me feel claustrophobic and ready to leave, ready to return to shopping centers with plenty of parking and distinctly less freeways.

On the flip side? Every time I visit somewhere rural, out and away, I’m captivated by the open space and fresh air. The puffy clouds on the horizon. The lack of traffic, lack of hurry. Less of a sense of watching the clock, more just enjoying the moment. My whole mindset shifts into something as tranquil as a fishing pond: I’m at peace.

Part of it could be that my country trips feel like miniature vacations. (In fact, Spencer has bemoaned the fact that I declare everything an opportunity to “be on vacation.”) Being in the country means I’m not in Southern Maryland, which means I’m not at work (where there’s work to be done) or home (where there are chores to be done).

It means I’m away. And that alone is relaxing.

I need to find a way to bring a little of that “country” mindset back to the ’burbs with me.

City vs. country — where do you stand? Somewhere in the middle, like me? Did you grow up in one or the other — and are you on the flipside of that atmosphere now?