So, the other day, sister-in-law got this t-shirt for my daughter:
My kid absolutely loves big cities and hustle and bustle that comes with them. It made me smile because I am the original city girl. Well, I should probably say “city gal” due to my age. I grew up in a major Belarus metropolis with half a million residents back in the day. Actually, even that felt too small, which is why I set out for Minsk, the capital of the country. After all, large cities is where all the interesting people are. Or so I thought.
There was this cafe in the center of Minsk that was cheap enough even for a broke university student. Sometimes I would have my coffee and just look out of the window for an hour or so. If you stayed there long enough, most of Minsk’s 2 million residents would eventually pass you by. Riding a subway each day felt second nature. Once a guy gave me his card and said he was a movie director and wanted me to come to auditions. Pfft, I have my sights set on Hollywood! I felt like I belonged in this chaotic mess of people, and could get lost in the crowd and do my own thing.
But there was this guy back in America… We wrote each other every day. Real letters, there was no email back then. He must have really liked me because I can’t get him to fill out anything by hand these days. Every day after classes I went by a post office to see if I got anything. Sometimes there were five letters waiting for me, but then a week would go by and nothing would show up.
Eventually, I flew to US to see about a boy. Didn’t earn any miles because I had no idea about the Hobby back then. It was supposed to be just a visit, but here I am many years later. While I was in Florida, we saw some news indicating escalating tensions between USA and Belarus. In fact, at one point, the government cut off power to American embassy. So, it was decided (by me) that we would get married and I would stay in Florida. Needless to say, the boy (and we were oh so young!) wasn’t too upset. I think he was concerned that if I went back, I would become a huge Belarus movie star and would forget all about him.
There was, however, one problem. He lived in a small town in a middle of nowhere. County population: 10,000 people, and it hasn’t grown much in the last 17 years. A mall? We don’t got one, well, unless you count Walmart shopping plaza. One time I saw a guy ride his horse in the bank’s drive-thru area. Hmm, ride-thru? Once my husband accidentally hit a wild pig with his car. Someone stopped and asked if he needed help and if he was going to keep the pig. Umm, no. So, the man (of redneck-ish appearance) loaded it into his truck and took it home to make some bacon.
So, naturally, I was thinking we would move to a real city at some point. Something like New York or San Francisco. But eventually it became clear that my husband was not a city dude and he had no desire to leave. Ever. Besides, his family was in this small town, and everything felt so familiar.
Years later, we are still here and surprising thing happened. This place became home, and now I don’t really want to move to a big city. We have a simple life here, very little traffic and people actually care. I know it will sound like a cliche, but when someone asks you how you are doing, they really want to know. There is no hiding in the crowd anymore, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Plus, in just few hours we can be at the world’s most beautiful beaches, no airfare required.
The cost of living is fairly low, so even with one white-collar job in the family, it’s possible to pay the bills and have a little leftover. I’m so happy I was able to be a SAHM for the past 8 years. I realize it’s not for everyone and some women simply have no choice. So, this isn’t a “mommy” type statement. What I appreciate the most, though, is that my kids are near their grandparents. And when I say near, I mean it. We live across the street from my in-laws, but that’s a story for another post.
The thing that really helped me through the years when I felt like I would suffocate from boredom was travel. In this day and age, you can hop on a plane and be a “city gal” or dude for a weekend. In fact, in 6 months my husband and I are going to Chicago for just two nights to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Flights are short, there are no connections, so why not?
Thanks to miles and points, the out-of-pocket cost is minimal. So, if you live in a middle of nowhere and have little money for travel, this hobby can provide a solution. You can have your city cake and eat it too. And if you happen to hit a pig on your way back from the airport, just load it up, go home and make some bacon to go with it!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.