A Day In The Life Of Something I Know Nothing About; Metropolitan Living

When I tell you I live in a rural area, I’m not exaggerating.

Do you see the white speck right in the middle? That's me.

Do you see the white speck right in the middle? That’s me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the wastelands of South Dakota where people don’t actually exist. We have electricity, running water and internet service; just not a lot of it.

As part of my ongoing series exploring things I know nothing about, I wanted to find out how different life is in the big city. What am I missing, tucked away in my quiet little corner of the world?

So I reached out to Anna at the Home and Away blog for some insight on metropolitan living.

Now, we’re all about low brow humor hear at the Big Dick Chronicles. How I came into contact with such a lovely, sophisticated woman as Anna still puzzles me. But I’m not going to question my good fortune, I’m just going to pump her for information to help improve my blog.

She was kind enough to assist me and as I read her responses, I found that our lives could not be more different.

1. Some brief background; what is your history of metropolitan living? How much of your life has been spent in large cities? What was your earliest age for living in a large city?

“I was born in Moscow and raised in the center of the city – the Kremlin was down the street from my school.

See that white spot in the middle? That's the Kremlin.

See that white spot in the middle? That’s the Kremlin.

Then, after a bit of back and forth between continents, I moved to the United States as a teen. After high school years spent in Suburbia (Maryland and Rhode Island) I went to college in Washington, DC and moved to New York City (Manhattan) after graduation. Nearly seven years later I was back to Moscow, which is where I live now. Oh, and while in college, I spent a year studying abroad in Paris and Madrid. When I travel internationally I tend to stick to cities for most of my itinerary as well – London, Florence, Amsterdam.”

Let’s put some context to that. The city of Moscow has a current population of approximately 11.9 million in an area of approximately 1,000 square miles. That’s a population density of 11,900 people per square mile.

In contrast, I have lived 93% (I did the math) of my life in areas with less than 10,000 people. More than half of that time has been spent in areas with less than 500 people. I currently live in the country, in a county with less than 10,000 people in 400 square miles. That’s an average of 25 people per square mile.

2. When you were younger (teens, college age) what did a night on the town look like?

“College was all about clubs on weekends. We were a pretty mainstream crowd – no funky underground musicians for us, just so we could seem cool! But we’d dance all night and then get a falafel from a corner cart at dawn before passing out. One of the unsung benefits of big city living is that nobody cards you at restaurants, especially when you’re wearing a suit on the way back from Congressional internship. So when not dancing, my friends and I would go out to “nice” DC restaurants for cocktails – we were such sophisticates! – and foreign policy debates. I don’t think any of us ever had a fake ID.”

We're gonna play Where's Waldo on DCclubbing.com until we find her.

We’re gonna play Where’s Waldo on dcclubbing.com until we find her.

In the late 90’s MTV aired a show “Sex in the 90’s” that highlighted the differences in life in New York versus middle America. The small town was Monett, MO. Not where I’m from, but nearby and similar enough. I wish I could find a clip to show you, but it’s long gone. Watching them try to describe the weekend “night life” in a small down was quite disturbing.

What do small town teens do on the weekend?

“Well, you just drive around on the main drag. Most folks turn around down there at the Sonic and then you drive down to the Casey’s store and turn around there. And you do that until you either find a girl or run out of gas money.”

Oh my.

My weekends were spent in a town of about 7,000 people. Our strip was the McDonald’s to the movie theater parking lot. When we ran out of gas money, we would run home and grab our bikes and just ride around town until 3 am.

Did I mention that I wasn’t real successful with the ladies?

But that was then. What about now?

3. And now? What does a night on the town look like as an adult?

“I certainly don’t take full advantage of Moscow’s nightlife, which is vivid and boisterous, because in my old age I am yawning by 1 am.(I actually tried to find some photos of Moscow nightlife to insert here, but they were all highly inappropriate for this article.)

Instead it’s theater (I have a dozen within walking distance from my apartment), a fancy lounge if a coworker is throwing a party (sugary cocktails have been replaced with vodka rocks with lemon), or a pub – my favorite. The weekends now are all about winding down from work, rather than being released into the wild!
In New York, one of my favorite things to do on a summer weekend was to go to the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for champagne, funky installations and gorgeous city views.”

Okay, that's just not fair.

Okay, that’s just not fair.

Being in a rural area, we live an hour from everywhere. So a night on the town often begins with the hunt for a babysitter. Our over night babysitter is often the in-laws who are an hour away. That means we have to start by 4 pm, or we spend the first two to three hours of the evening driving.

Once that’s out of the way, we can choose from a movie, dinner, or an occasional comedian. Most times, we opt to just stay in. Grill a steak and watch cheesy movies until bed time.

We are starting to spend more weekends getting together with friends. This involves hanging out, grilling burgers, and drinking my buddy’s home brewed beer while the kids play. We’ve got friends coming over this weekend to enjoy some adult conversation while the kids run wild in the pool.

One of the things I hear people complain about is that it is too quiet in the country.

4. Step outside at 10:00 pm. What do you hear?:”

“Traffic! After-work rush hour might be over, but restaurant, theater and club rush is in full swing. Oh, and construction – usually for another hour at least.”

What do I hear? Bugs. Especially crickets. From every direction. Occasionally, the cicadas come around and it sounds like an electric generator right outside your windows. There was a pack of coyotes off in the distance tonight and occasionally, a semi out on the highway two miles away.

5. Let’s see a photo of what your daily life looks like.

The taxi ride to work.

The taxi ride to work.

The view from my office.

The view from my office.

What an amazing amount of life that is going on all around!

This is the view from my driveway;

Can you see my neighbor? Me either.

Can you see my neighbor? Me either.

There is a house back there somewhere.

There is a house back there somewhere.

I always enjoy finding out what people enjoy most from their adventures. So I asked.

6. What has been your favorite place to live? Your least favorite?

“I LOVED living in Manhattan. New York overwhelms a lot of people and I think the key here is finding your own little corner that’s a spiritual match of sorts. For me it was the quiet, green streets of the Upper East Side, with lots of sushi restaurants and Irish pubs. I took to it like fish to the water. Also the months spent in Madrid were pretty epic – that’s the city that embodies the “never sleep” mantra more than any other where I’ve lived. And I love Moscow, of course!

On the flip side there was Paris. Beautiful but overrun with tourists 365 days a year, it was also very difficult to enjoy for a poor college student incidentally placed in a very posh neighborhood. I was constantly counting my Euro-centimes and couldn’t do what I wanted to. It felt like a city for the rich – unlike NYC or Madrid, which could be easily enjoyed on the cheap.”

My current location is by far my favorite, mostly because it is mine. It’s the home that I’ve helped create. This is the place where I first began to feel like an adult.

The small towns where I grew up held too much dysfunction for me to romanticize; mostly because they were filled with my dysfunctional family. I don’t miss them.

Metropolitan life is so starkly different from anything I’ve ever experienced, that I can’t help but wonder, what am I missing?

7. What is the attraction of city life?

“So many – where do I start?! I think for most people, myself included, it’s about 24-7 access – to food, entertainment, basic services. It’s about freedom – doing what you want when you want to. It’s about choice – whether of the kind of cuisine I want to have for dinner, or whether I want to spend my weekend at a zoo or a movie theater or ice skating rink or a park. It’s about being able to call a friend on a whim and meet for a drink half an hour later, without anyone having to drive several towns over. It’s about having a dozen of friends and acquaintances all connected through metro lines. I also have a strong feeling of community and safety in a city – we are all in this together. If something happens there are a dozen doors I can knock on in 2 minutes. You are never alone. I love that.”

Dang, it’s hard to compete with that.

I think the first attraction of country life is the freedom. The land is mine to cultivate, build, create as I please. Life in the country requires a degree of self reliance. I have to know a moderate amount about construction, auto mechanics, and household repairs. We’re too far removed from service providers to call someone out every time something goes wrong.

There is no intrusion, no loud neighbors that keep me up at night. I can go outside and pee in the yard. We can swim naked in the pool at two in the afternoon (when the kids are still at school).

We basically live in a park. I can sit in a tree stand and watch a bobcat walk by 40′ away. Tonight I watched two large bucks jump across our road and into the woods next door. I’ve watched a coyote walk up to the base of my tree while hunting. We had a flying squirrel that liked to sneak into a closet and eat our dog treats.

It is quiet and relaxed. We don’t need speed bumps on our road. It’s gravel. Common sense keeps you at a leisurely pace.

So what if that all changed tomorrow? What if my job suddenly threw me in the middle of New York City?

8. After living my entire life in a rural setting, what would be the hardest adjustment if my family suddenly had to move to a very large city?

“Oh boy. This I can answer only based on the complaints of suburbanites who’ve visited me in New York or Moscow. Thus I am going to throw three options at you.
1-The noise and the lights. You would probably need earplugs and light-blocking curtains to go to sleep. By contrast, I have a problem going to sleep in a rural area because it is quiet and scary and creepy.
2-The traffic, both human and automotive. There is always a congestion, there is always honking, there are always people pushing you aside if you’re blocking their path onto the train. Everyone crosses on the red light when the cops aren’t looking. It’s mad. Only the strongest will survive.
3-There is no back yard for the kids to play in. You have to go to a park or a playground, and usually some supervision is best. In the summer a lot of people head out to the countryside at least for a few weeks. BUT – there are zoos and sea worlds and museums and festivals and amusement parks and educational resources like no other. I loved growing up in the city.
PS – there is a persistent stereotype of city people as rude and unfriendly. It is totally false. We just don’t like it when anyone is blocking the sidewalk as we rush to office/home/theater.”

Hearing this wonderful homage to city life, I’m left with the question; am I missing out?

The city is a wonderful life for some, but I’m a very laid back introvert. I would feel crushed in the city. The teeming masses would suck all of the energy out of me. Conversely, some people cannot handle the openness and lack of creature comforts that come from life in the country. To them, the silence is deafening.

What did I learn from researching this post? If I ever travel to the city, I better find a guide. I would be completely lost and forget to enjoy a single moment of it.

When you’ve had your fill of dick jokes, I highly recommend you check out Anna’s blog for some legitimate culture. She has some unbelievably beautiful photos from her travels throughout the world and travel magazine quality commentary.

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9 thoughts on “A Day In The Life Of Something I Know Nothing About; Metropolitan Living

  1. [This comment will ignore the off-line exchange about Bud Light or I might die.]

    First of all – OMG I am blushing from all the compliments. Thank you.

    I love the pictures you found – the DC club scene looks about right (I cannot BELIEVE some of the things I used to wear, but generally it’s just jealousy over my younger self’s firm hot bod), and LOL yup, Moscow nightlife is generally NSFW.

    The Met rooftop cocktail party! Yes! That’s exactly how it was, and it was amazing. Did I mention that it was walking distance from my NYC apartment? I should have.

    I actually love the photos of your country roads. Did you see my horse riding adventures in Crimea? I love the country, all the green. I just couldnt live there full-time. But the air and nature is nice. Russkies love nature.

    PS – You had me at all the dick jokes
    PPS – until you said things about Bud Light
    PPPS – looking at my two photos side by side on someone else’s blog sort of hits me in the face with how much this IS my life. At least 16 hrs a day.
    PPPPS – I am reblogging this after my Crimea Epic is finished. But we’re still not talking. See PPS.

    • I’m glad I was able to help you reminisce about some of the fun, if potentially embarrassing from a fashion standpoint, times in your life.

      The compliments were fully earned. Your website really is quite remarkable. You’ve obviously put a lot of work into it.

      If you want your final Bud Light comment to be my lasting memory of you, okay…..

  2. I really liked this post and I am having Anna travel envy:) I would love to visit all those wonderful cities someday. I have always lived in suburbia and for the most part next to one of the largest cities in the US. I did live near a smaller city for a small time but it was next to one of the largest metroplexes in the US. The smallest town I lived in was pretty country but full of 50,000+ college students and only an hour from a major city so I am not sure that that really counts as small. I have noticed in my recent move that even suburbia can be very different…we moved from one large suburb to another and noticed that we moved from an area where you feel alone in a crowd to a Howdy neighbor sort of place. We like it here better. We are 20 minutes from downtown which trust me in this city is impressive, but 5 minutes from the local farmers market and I can buy a cow and fresh eggs 10 minutes down the street. So I have a couple of questions as I have never lived in the country? Does it get lonely? Does your wife have a tough time staying at home with the kids without a network of friends that live close? Do you find your life is less stressful? more relaxed? Do you ever wish for hustle and bustle? I keep imagining how much it would stink if you got home from the grocery store and realized you forgot something important. Is the country inconvenient? or do you adapt? Do you have things you enjoy doing on your land…hobbies? I don’t think I could live in the actual city…besides the fact that the schools stink it is a very different lifestyle, but I really like the convenience of the city with close neighbors and close nature to enjoy and forget the hustle and bustle for a while.

    • Hi Bea,
      The travel does sound awesome doesn’t it?

      I’ll answer your questions in order;
      1. No, not lonely. We’ve got some close friends that are in the area what we spend a lot of time with. And remember, country driving is completely different than city driving. Someone 20 miles away is only 20 minutes away.
      2. We know several stay at home moms that she spends time with. Again, distance isn’t quite the same out here. Kids are all in school now, so her time is hers during the day. She’s working on an at home bakery business which is a lot of fun.
      3. Definitely less stressful. The only real source of stress is that there is always something that needs done when you have several acres to maintain. For instance, today I am trying to fill some washout spots on the gravel driveway and my tractor is acting up.
      4. I do several hours of driving on most days, so I’m always near a store so she can call me if we’re missing something.
      5. Inconvenient? Hmm. I’m going to answer that by saying contentment is defined by the fewness of your wants. There are definitely limitations. For instance, you cannot get cable of broadband internet here. There is no infrastructure for it.
      6. Plenty to do here, if you like the outdoors. I love to hunt. I built a shed, a tree house, a swimming pool. My wife keeps saying she wants a garden, but we haven’t done that yet. She loves photography, so tons of wildlife and landscape to explore.

      We are also blessed to have one of the top school systems in our area. And it is less than 5 minutes away.

      • I didn’t think about the driving thing…that is so true…it can sometimes take me 20 minutes to go less than ten miles depending on the time of day. It is nice to have friends nearby…that is really the only way Levi and I get time to ourselves…we take turns watching each other’s kids.
        Sounds very cool…I always wanted a tree house:) We never had a tree mature enough. I love this: “contentment is defined by the fewness of your wants”. Not always an easy thing though is it?
        Next time I have to go spray the weeds on our driveway, I will remind myself that my load could be much heavier and I should quit the whining:) lol!

  3. Pingback: BIG CITY LIFE | Home & Away

  4. Very nice Anna. Well done. 🙂 I love going to the country for a visit, but sadly, I love cosmpolitan life much more. I don’t know where I got it from as I grew up in the suburbs and the big city for us was Manchester (England), nobody even knew anyone who had been to London. Except on a school trip, and that felt like Mars. We all got scammed by a trickster selling “jumping beans” outside the London Science Museum and gave him all our pocket money….!

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