I have always been a city girl. I was born in the big city of Los Angeles, and I've stuck close to big cities ever since, because, well, I have always been a city girl.
Despite never having fulfilled my dream of living on the bustling island of Manhattan, so far in addition to Los Angeles, I've lived in San Diego, Denver, Seattle, and now Chicago. I have always loved the energy of big cities -- the lights, the diverse people, the sounds, and the non-stop activity. And while I know that being a city girl doesn't necessarily need to be juxtaposed to being a nature girl, for me it always has been -- I've loved big cities, and I'm not a necessarily a fan of nature. Don't get me wrong, I love the outdoors, as long as excessive heat and insects aren't involved. In fact, my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors is with a giant piece of glass between me, and "the elements."
Truth be told, the outdoors (i.e. nature) scares me. Open spaces scare me. Dark skies scare me. Nature-dwelling critters scare me. An open road with large creatures with springs for legs jumping into my car's path scare me.
I probably wouldn't have been so anti-nature if every time I ventured into it, something didn't try to hurt (aka kill) me.
Whether taking a walk in the woods, a spin on my bike, a hike on a mountain (kidding, I've never hiked!) or even sitting outside on a rock in a forest reading a book, something nature-y is either trying to burn me, bite me, sting me, bristle me or bump me (off the side of a cliff, for instance).
Unfortunately for me I raised a son who loves the outdoors. He fishes, hikes, skis, kayaks, canoes, and yes, (gulp) camps. And because I'm a good mother I have indulged my son with one camping trip per year in the beautiful and nature-filled Northwoods area of Wisconsin. Now, he'll dispute this of course because according to my legalistic son, "staying in a cabin is not camping," but au contraire my child... if I can see slivers of the pitch-black sky through the cabin ceiling, then we are by definition, camping.
Despite the constant criticism I receive for not being "outdoorsier," I have to say that I am a really great sport, and have on many occasions put myself in harm's way in order to make my son happy. Why once I even pulled a large blood-filled tick from my hair, and during one particularly memorable fishing trip I was forced to share our cabin with a bat for an entire week (seven nights, eight days), which quite frankly, was far worse than camping. Again, I may not embrace nature, but I am a great sport (although I did spend that entire week screaming with a towel over my head whenever I had to go into the cabin).
People all throughout Wisconsin know who I am. I am a legend of sorts. I am the city girl who wears yellow dishwashing gloves to protect my manicure, screams whenever a bee (or hummingbird) flies too close to my head, and wanders around the lakeshore with my iPhone held to the sky, convinced that with an ounce of persistence and splash of optimism I'll find that one spot in northern Wisconsin where an AT&T signal meets the ground.
So yes, I am a confirmed city girl, and after years of pining for life in the big city, last September, when my son abandoned me for something called college, I rented my house in the city outskirts (otherwise known as the suburbs), and moved into a luxury high rise in downtown Chicago!
Yes, I made it... I was living the life I'd always dreamed of, and I couldn't have been happier. I was Carrie on Sex and the City (sans the creative wardrobe and cool friends), writing from my luxury city apartment on the 27th floor with a stunning view of city lights. And because I was so excited about every big city experience I was having, I documented every little detail on my Facebook page, so that all 282 of my closest friends could enjoy my newfound life, and understand why I was going to live in the city for ever-and-ever-and-ever-and-ever (and ever):
During this summer's annual fishing trip I found myself having a new appreciation for nature. For the first time in months, I didn't have a feeling of anxiety gripping my chest. I purchased an entire meal for under $10, I could get from my living quarters to my car in less than 25 minutes, and I actually found myself relishing the quiet; and something else I hadn't experienced in months - the color of green.
So shortly after we returned, I sublet my apartment in the sky, and moved home. Granted, I'm not really in the country, but I can walk out my front door and immediately be in the wild tundra of my very own unmowed lawn in less than 5 seconds. And I can once again enjoy the conveniences of living someplace where I am completely dependent on my car for almost everything. For instance, I can shop at Target to my heart's content, and am no longer limited to buying only what I can carry on my one-mile jaunt home. And running out of milk (or toilet paper) is no longer a crisis requiring a two-mile round trip sprint.
So what's next for me? Well, now that I've gotten high-rise downtown living out of my system, I believe I am now almost-solidly, semi-fully committed to becoming a hiking-biking-take-a-walk-in-the-woods-critter-loving-all-things-outdoors-nature girl. I have no idea how to start, but am open to suggestions, and even some on-the-ground (or in the woods) coaching. I'm certain that there must be some sort of class I can take, so first thing tomorrow, after cruising through my local drive-thru Starbucks, I plan on perusing my 'parks and rec' catalog in search of a beginner class on "how to enjoy nature without getting killed."
It's a new era for me, and all survival tips from experienced nature lovers are welcome.
I'm an educator, author, blogger, artist and mom. I came up with the idea of my Aging Naked blog when I hit 50 and my need to be more transparent and authentic overcame my fear of being more transparent and authentic. I'm on a journey, and love the idea of it being a collective one, so let me know if you're here, and feel free share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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