Friday, October 06, 2006

The Rural South

It's been an interesting week, convincing the state bureaucracy I exist, I'm not a felon, I will be responsible with my checking account, and I won't use the cell phone in the library. For all the rural south's relaxed ways, they take establishing residency pretty seriously.

When you go from bureau to bureau, it's gridlock. To get a checking account, you need a state driver's license. To get a license, you need a postal mailing address. To get a postal mailing address, you need a license. Sigh.

After pleading on bended knee, I got the PO box and then I could go ahead and order utilities, go to the licensing bureau and get a license (photo: not bad, time spent: under an hour) and then I could go to the bank and establish an account. The license was required for the checking account thanks to our friends in Homeland Security in these Post-911 dayz.

I bought a car: a 1987 Honda that despite its cigarette ash laden dog hair carpet is remarkably zippy, in good shape, and gas efficient. Hey, I bought gas for $1.99 the other day! I've been cruising on a half tank for a week now, and loving every fuel-efficient mile. And for a paltry $35, I found an "extreme car detailing" place that made the thing look like new. It is so clean it squeaks.

For the miles do rack up when you're in the country. The mover guy arrived Tuesday as scheduled, but as he got out of the truck, he said with hands on hips, "You are out in the middle of NOWHERE!" True enough. But the roads are in great shape and I am zipping around from here to there organizing all the details you take for granted when you have an already established life. Like, hey, all my clothes are dirty and where's the laundromat? The grocery store? The registrar of voters? Which bank do I choose? Is this pizza place any good? (It better be, there are only two restaurants in town).

My phone is not hooked up yet, which makes calling from place to place to check on the status of my utilities' installation a challenge, but the phone is key: for, you see, I will need to access the internet through dial up. No DSL or cable goes by my farm road, and won't for at least another 6 months. Maybe. I am accessing e-mail and internet at the library now, which is eminently doable, but there is a time limit, and my penchant is to be online for, like, 24 hours a day. Nothing like dial-up to make you break the habit and go outside for once.

And the weather has been sunny and in the low 80s since I got here last week. There are tomatoes, butterflies, greenery, heat, sun, and lots of birds. There's a heron that lives in the pond across from my window. He make a racket every morning, which I love. Even describing it sounds like a romantic spy movie: 'The Heron Squawks at Dawn.'

There's a small farmer's market on Saturday mornings, and I hear through the small town grapevine that there will be a guy selling fresh bread this week. Sounds like the place to be. And what could be better than sitting outside in the sun on a bright weekend morning chatting with friendly neighbors, buying fresh bread and grabbing a cup of coffee at the cafe afterwards? Mmm, welcome to the south.

Oops my time's up, but next time' the library's open, I'll be back with another snippet. Thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend.


Anonymous said...

I read through this entire blog and I haven't seen you mention exactly where you've moved to. I was looking to contact you "off-blog", but I can kind of understand why you haven't published your whereabouts or an email address. I've been thinking about moving out of Maine myelf, so hopefully you won't mind a question or two.

I went south (to TN) earlier this year to see if it's a place I'd like to live. Though the folks there seem fairly friendly, they're suspicious about outsiders moving in. Have you found that to be the case?

Also, I'm not a religious person at all, and attitudes in the bible belt concern me. Have you seen much closed-mindedness down there?

And a comment: I've lived in different parts of the US, and when visiting the South I found it refreshing that people of all colors seemed to live in harmonyh and be treated fairly equally. Unfortunately, I do not find this to be the case in Maine and it's one of the things that bugs me about this state.

Elizabeth Prata said...

Hi, thanks for writing. If you want to post your e-mail address, I'll e-mail you back.

If you don't, let me know and I'll answer here in less specific terms. I will say that I have been enjoying the friendly nature of people here and the laid back attitudes. Service sure is friendlier than in the north, where if you sit down to a restaurant meal, the servers act like you're interrupting your day. When I opened my checking account, the Bank president came out, shook my hand, gave me his card, and chatted with me a while, thanking me for choosing their bank.

My car detailer guy, told his wife I was new to the area and she went out and bought a Hallmark card and the whole family wrote a note inside welcoming me to town.

Thank you for reading my blog and if you want to do more by e-mail I would be more than happy!

Anonymous said...


Louie B said...

The car detailer's wife, Hallmark card and notes .... so nice.

Anonymous said...

You are such a wonderful person, Elizabeth, it will never be difficult for you to 'fit in' wherever you reside! People who know you and Love you {both near and far} will quickly admire and respect you as we did in this little Town of Gray! You are missed by many here; and your contribution to The Monument can never be surpassed! Glad to hear you have arrived safely; and hope you truly enjoy 'The Quiet Life'!!!

christie said...

Dial up? Dude, I feel your pain.

Elizabeth Prata said...

Though I have signed up for netzero, I still need to either receive the initializing CD in the mail (2 weeks) or go to radio Shack or Best Buy and get it (anytime I get into the city). meanwhile, it's the library for me, which has a T-1 line and is open 7 days a week.

Actually, being forcibly disconnected has not been totally horrible. I get more done at the pain so far has been having to do the cleaning and the dishes more frequently :)

Though I can hardly wait to download itunes or attach big photos on dial-up... argh!