I am a housewife, but I’m also an artist. I don’t really fit either mold.
I live in a rural community, but I have amber glass gauges and tattoos. Most days I’m wearing red Converse All Stars with blue laces and some kind of funky hat. I’m also usually wearing paint-splattered clothes. Sometimes, there’s a bit of mud or grass stain too, because I keep chickens and work in the garden.
Stereotypes don’t always fit and you can’t judge a book by its cover, or so they say. I rather enjoy marching to my own tune, rather than doing what is expected of me. If anyone were to take the time to have expectations, I likely wouldn’t notice. I’m too busy.
There are so many preconceptions of what it is like to live in a small community, particularly a rural one. We’re all ignorant hayseeds who are afraid of outsiders. We tote guns everywhere we go and have brawls in the streets on Friday and Saturday nights. None of us has more than a high school education, and some are lucky to have that. We’re all poor.
Some of those things are true for some people, but not for most. I’ve never seen a brawl in the street and some of those guys who ‘just’ have a high school education are making more on their farms than the next ten people you pass on the street combined. We might have a simpler life, but we’re not simple people. I saw more ignorance and violence living in the suburbs than I do now. If you want to see exclusionary behavior first-hand, go to your nearest urban or suburban playground for an hour. You have to have credentials to talk to some of those parents.
I find that I’m far happier in this quaint little town that sometimes smells like a chicken house (just for a few minutes though, right after the truck rambles through main street between the farm and the processing plant) than I ever was in the big city of Atlanta or the stifling conformity of the suburbs.
I find the fact that most people know who you are as soon as you move to town charming. I don’t mind that they know what I’m up to on a daily basis either. Folks here look after one another and their community. They’re neighborly.
I also find that I’m more active and invested in my community, which was one of the major reasons my family and I moved here. Surprisingly, I’m far more heavily involved in cultural activities here than I was in the suburbs and there is much more interest in my art. Some people might find there are limitations living in a rural community, but we are thriving here.
Frances Byrd is a stay-at-home mom, community volunteer, and artist. She loves all things old, living in the country and keeping chickens.