“So how rural are you?”

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Recently, a friend asked, “so how rural are you?” and I realized “rural” can run a pretty broad spectrum. So, allow me to elaborate on exactly what “rural” means in my particular case.

My new town, according to Wikipedia, boasts a total population of about 550. Mr. B’s graduating class had 40 students; the class before that only had 12. The high school was too small for even the stereotypical small-town high school football team, and it eventually closed and merged with a larger county school about a dozen years ago. The current graduation rate for this school is less than 60%.

The adjacent town is best known for it’s Amish population. I frequently encounter Amish buggies in my travels, which isn’t surprising because several Amish families live right down the road. As I’ve mentioned, the nearest Walmart and Tractor Supply are a half-hour away, and the nearest Giant Eagle (or any decent grocery store, for that matter), is 45 minutes away in a small college town. There is a smaller grocery store about 15 minutes away, but, while they have a delicious selection of local meats, the convenience of not having to leave the county is reflected in their prices. After paying almost $10 for a 10 lb bag of sugar one day (I normally pay about $6), I am extra-cautious about shopping there. The nearest gas stations close at night; the nearest 24-hour gas station is at least 10 miles away.

Our home is situated in the back corner of about 250 acres of farmland, which is comprised of two separate farms, owned and run by siblings of Mr. B’s father. His uncle’s farm has about 40 beef cows, while his aunt’s farm has about a dozen “hobby” cows, who are raised mostly for the joy of farming. Because of how it is all set up, our nearest neighbors are out of view, about a mile away, and all related to Mr. B.

To help you understand the culture shock I’ve experienced, allow me to describe my hometown. I was born and raised in a town that always felt small to me, but is home to a population of just over 20,000. Located roughly 20 miles outside a major city, it is comprised mostly of housing developments and small businesses with a median household income more than double that of my new town. There were about 350 students in my graduating class and the current graduation rate for my high school is 97%.  In 2005, the high school football team won the state championship in their division. The nearest gas station was 3 miles away and was open 24 hours a day; the nearest Giant Eagle was 4 miles away. The distance to Tractor Supply (which was never of much concern to me before I moved) was just under 4 miles away, and the nearest mall (which was of far more concern to me before I relocated) was 8 miles away.

I am not in any way saying that one town is better than the other. They are simply different; and while I have had to adjust to these differences, I have also benefited from them in many ways. If I didn’t live where I do, I wouldn’t have Mr. B or his wonderful  family. I would probably have to deal with neighbors or a homeowners’ association. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to have my horse or my grape vines. Yes, I find living here incredibly inconvenient sometimes, and yes, I will likely complain about this inconvenience every time I go grocery shopping, but I wouldn’t trade the life that Mr. B and I have together for anything in the world.