Not everyone is going to agree with me, of course. But all sorts of people like all sorts of different things, and dislike all sorts of different things, and that is okay. I dislike Delaware, where I previously lived, and that is okay.
I grew up in and around Philly, and Delaware was always there. In the days when people bought consul TVs and huge stereos Delaware is where you bought them because it has no sales tax. And I had an uncle in the Air Force, and he lived, when he retired from it, in and around the Dover area. We visited a bit, and I remember my father was impressed that they had larger houses on big pieces of land for cheap. And why? Because, Delaware.
The first state, second smallest, and, until recent years, almost entirely a rural. It’s that last part that get’s ya. I have read the stories about hipsters who leave the city and land in some rural area and open up a micro brew and live happily ever after. And I guess the beer guy, Dogfishhead beer, did that. He married one of the wealthiest girls in the county, and was able to get land and resources and everything else a guy could need to brew his overly-hoppy, painstakingly hipstery beer. What-ev. The rural thing ain’t it, IMHO.
They say that there are 200 chickens for every man woman and child in Delaware. Get it? One person = 200 chickens.
It snuck up on me, the rural.
At first I was just like, well, I’m 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean; this is cool. And it was, at the time, cheaper than many areas in the USA that are 10 miles from the ocean, any ocean. And the fields, when you’re new, or maybe any time, are something. They blind the view in the summer and fall, when the corn is 6 feet high, and the rest of the year they lay out flat, expansive views of the land as far as you can bear to look, and they change color with the seasons and plantings. I like them in early spring best, when they turn bright green, and my second favorite is fall, when the chopped corn stalks stick up like daggers, and the bales of hay dot the fields in a way that always reminds me of the cover of Houses of the Holy.
But, in rural areas people are insular, and they like it like it is, and they like it even more, is possible, like it was, and not like it could be or might be. And they like the people to be the people who always were, and they don’t really want you moving here, and they’re not welcoming, and all that you might bring looks to them like a virus from Wuhan looks to the rest of us. How did you find this private place of theirs, and how can they get you to get out, and not tell anyone else about it? Brigadoon the place, that’s what they want. The whole Saturday Evening Post story that Trump sold to the white man, the rural folks bought that hook, line, and sinker..
This is not true of the whole state, but of the part they call slower-lower. The locals sell bumper stickers that say LSD and Lower Slower Delaware to trick the newbies, because the name is actually Slower, Lower Delaware, like that, so the newbies look stupid in the eyes of the born-heres. They mark ’em, right on their cars. They also mark themselves, with these special black license plates that are no longer available, so you have to have been here in the “before times,” which means any time before YOU showed up, to have one. Newcomers who really want to be real-deal rural will spend thousands to buy the plate from a dead guy’s car.
Facebook is a great place to see this kind of thing in action. Someone will post to a local group, “Is the corn man out today?” And someone will reply, “He just left; he ran out of corn.” And another person will say, “He ran out of corn because all you people moved here and now we can’t get any anymore.”
Never mind that the corn man might be damn glad to sell-out of corn, to anybody, local or not. There’s an open current of hostility. And don’t get me started on the pick-up trucks. But, just one story, imagine standing in line in a freezing drizzle to vote in the presidential election, and a huge pick-up, with gigantic Trump flags out the back, is circling the line playing Ted Nugent at a nuclear volume, and the truck keeps getting waaaay to close for comfort to the line of waiting voters. Or, imagine going to one of the many drive-on beaches, and a pick-up truck sets up camp next to you, and proudly plants their “Fuck Biden, and Fuck you for Voting for Him” flag in the sand next to you. Or imagine driving these country roads, and a pickup truck seems to be trying to run you off the road, and the driver yells something and gives you the finger when he passes you. Okay, that was three stories, not one, but, and there are so many more.
If you live east of The One (route 1, not Keanu Reeves), and only venture to The One for dinner out or some such thing, you can basically convince yourself that you’re in vacation wonderland, and everyone around you seems to be too. But if you’re west of The One it can be a very different experience, from your locally born neighbors to the chicken trucks carrying soon-to-be-dead birds everywhere in miserable conditions, to the general attitude of folks. I remember one time saying to my local produce lady how I liked her watermelons because they were never “sandy.” “Sandy?” she snapped. “What’s sandy? You mean mealy?” I guess yes, I meant mealy, but I grew up saying sandy. From that day on she seldom had a smile for me, because I was not from there; I’d used the language of a foreigner. A white person, like her, American-born-and raised, like her, and yet, a dirty foreigner. When a true friend of mine died, a friend who was a local as you could get, but who was, and thought of me as, a true friend though he was local and I was not, his family made certain I knew that I was not going to be included in any memorial of him, because I was not “one of them.”
I guess, if there’s someplace you’ve always wanted to try living in, you should be brave, and try it. If there’s someplace you need to be living in, whether you desire to live there or not, you have to be brave too, and look for those people who are open and accepting, like my friend who died, and take what you can get that makes it better when you can get it. For all the many many pro-Trump and Fuck Biden signs I’ve seen, for all the people who’ve yelled at me in parking lots because of my “Black Lives Matter” window cling, for all the church marquees that post rude and divisive messages in the name of Jesus-the-white-non-Jewish-man there have yet been bright spots, and I leave this post today with one that has always delighted me, what I call The Biden Barn. This photo is my photo, but I know not who The Biden Barn belongs to; I only know I love that person quite a lot.
I was always so happy to see this through my windshield. Now, I enjoy it being in my rearview mirror.