Good-bye City Life!

Two years ago I decided to move to a rural agricultural community. In other words, I moved back home. I had no choice; I lost my job and no longer able to live in New York City. From the onset, I'd face culture shock living in the wilderness far away from friends, a social life and easily accessible sushi. Yet, I rationalized, it wouldn't be all that bad; my boyfriend would visit on weekends.

You may be inquiring, why didn't I move in with him? Ha! We already had lived together for a year. And while I enjoyed having someone around, his constant, "What're you doing?" drove me up the walls. There were many other reasons, e.g., the huge age gap between us, his inability to coin a cohesive sentence and the general mayhem he brought to the table. But I digress.

The day of the move, at the end of April, he packed a UHaul truck with selected prized possessions I couldn't live without: computers, clothing, bric-a-brac, and boxes of stuff. The rest I had moved into a storage bin to contend with later. After 2 1/2 hours of driving, we arrived at the homestead, a tiny cabin, partially winterized, built on top of pillars. He spent the afternoon unpacking the truck whereas I hooked up the water and turned on the electricity. That evening, to commemorate the first day of my new life, he built a bonfire near the house and we danced in front of the flames.

The following day was a scorcher. "Put on shorts," I recommended. I put on a swimsuit and proceeded to empty the cartons and arrange my stuff throughout the already cluttered cabin.

"What should I do?" he asked.

"Go outside and enjoy the beautiful country weather," I said. "Count the deer."

Bored, he kept entering the house, asking, "What're you doing?"

Standing amid half-opened boxes, I yelled at him, "What do you think I'm doing? Grab a book, take a chair and just sit outside and breathe in fresh air!"

After several more episodes of this nature, he finally burst into the living room, "Say, can I have a bonfire?"

"It's 2 in the afternoon!" I yelled in exasperation. "What're you, an arsonist?"

His face fell.

"Ok, but keep it small. I want to have wood for a fire later tonight." In glee, he ran out. "Turn on the water hose and keep the fire extinguisher nearby!" I shouted after him.

While rummaging through the cartons, I received a call from my girlfriend. "How's the move?" We kibitzed for a while until I noticed the silence.

"Hmm, I wonder what Eddie's up to? He hasn't bothered me in a while. More than likely, he's setting fire to the house." Upon the utterance of those words, I saw a lick of flame burning the kitchen window from outside. "Oh my God!" I shrieked and ran outside.

Eddie had his back to the house staring at a small fire in the pit.

I peered underneath the house. "Eddie, the house is on fire!"

"What?" he said. He turned and knelt beside me. We watched flames spreading under the kitchen.

"Grab the hose!"

With one hand he picked up the hose, turned it on and with the other, snatched the fire extinguisher. Lying on his belly, he alternately shot water and extinguisher. After a few minutes, he bellowed, "It's not going out! Dial 9-1-1!"

I picked up the cell phone, dialed and introduced myself. "Hi. I'm Maura and I live at.... Kindly send a fire truck or two at your earliest inconvenience as my house is on fire."

Behind me, I heard him sobbing, "How did this happen?"

Moments later, the alarm sounded for the volunteer fire department. It only took a minute before I saw five fire trucks. What an amazing response! Faster than the City and I live out of the way. Unfortunately, they drove past my house. Once, twice, thrice.

Eddie yelled, "Why aren't they stopping?"

I ran to the road and jumped up and down the fourth time they sped past me. The fifth time, though worked like a charm. They stopped and I said to the driver, "Customarily, when I jump up and down in this swimsuit traffic stops."

"We couldn't see you from this high up."

"Didn't you get the address from 9-1-1?" I inquired.

"Yes, but we followed the smoke trail."

By the time they got to my front door, Eddie appeared. "I got it out."

"Let me be the judge of that," said the fire chief. He and his men thoroughly examined my house. "Good work," he said to Eddie, "you burnt out her electrical wires, melted her pipes and charred the shit outta her floors." The entire back of the house was blackened from the flames. The chief turned off the water and electrical access.

"What were you thinking?" asked the chief, "this is a no-fire zone."

I exchanged looks with Eddie. "I didn't know. I moved up here yesterday."

"It's a felony," he informed me. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Eddie doing the moon walk. "But since you were prepared with hose and extinguisher..."

At this point, thirty bored firefighters stood on my lawn. As well as neighbors and rubberneckers who drove over after listening to the radio bulletins. This was big news for the community. Live action, better than tv!

He continued, "Well, it was an accident. More than likely an ember flew away and ignited all the leaves under your house. Considering the dryness, you got away scot-free." He hesitated, "I knew your family and for now, I'll give you a free pass. No more bonfires."

I sighed in relief. "Listen, since all your people are here, why don't they practice with the equipment?" Just for my benefit they shot a few rounds of water at the house.

That night, I said to Eddie, "Listen, we're going to have to go out for dinner. There's no electricity or water in the kitchen."

"I don't wanna go. Everyone will laugh at me," he said, sullen and withdrawn.

Astounded, I said, "They don't know you!" And thought, "If they did, they'll definitely laugh!"

The moment we set foot inside a local restaurant, a waitress approached us, someone I never met before. "Eddie, why did you set fire to Maura's house?"

Evidently, everyone in town and surrounding villages heard about that afternoon event. Nothing like country living! The evening went downhill from there.

And thus began my new life in the country.

PS: I had to break up with him. He did set my house on fire.

# # #

Okay, I lied. I didn't KISS. Until the next time...

This is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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