We are city people, P and I. Before Valencia and before Edinburgh, we lived in a huge metropolis filled with millions of people. We barely knew our neighbours in the tall building where we lived, and the ultimate luxury was having an elevator all to ourselves on the way up to our condo after a long day at work in an office complex in the west end. We walked quickly down city streets and were careful not to make eye contact with strangers. There were independent coffee shops on every corner and a new restaurant to discover every week.
After we left this metropolis, we thought a small city like Edinburgh would be an easy adjustment, but as it turns out, we couldn’t find good sushi anywhere, or ramen, but we did find a good pho place across town. After one too many gloomy, overcast days and one especially dark August, we decided to move to Spain. Valencia was similar in size to Edinburgh, but so different in so many ways. We adopted a Mediterranean diet and our skin turned bronzed as we lived outside most of the time. We made Spanish friends and went to art gallery openings and really got into cava.
After three years of life on the Mediterranean sea, we came back to the UK and thought it might be interesting to live in the English countryside. Life here could not be more different than the metropolis or even the smaller cities we lived in before. While in Spain, we learned that it was impossible to walk briskly on sidewalks because the Spanish are rarely in a hurry. Here, in the countryside, while there’s a good deal of ambling, making eye contact is not only normal, but a warm “hello” is also expected. For our citified selves, this was all new to us. And this friendliness toward strangers wasn’t limited to country walks along the river, but also to neighbours. We don’t answer the door for unexpected visitors (something we got accustomed to after having doormen) but only for parcel deliveries. So when we first moved to this tiny countryside village, we were suspicious of neighbours who tried to befriend us, or, on occasion, came over to ring our doorbell, causing panic and confusion. Besides the interactions with other villagers, the biggest adjustment has been the weather. After living in a city in Spain which enjoyed 300 days of sunlight, these overcast skies have not been easy to get used to. Last night the sun set at 3:39pm. It sets an entire two hours later in Spain.
But there are so many positives to living in a smaller place. I told you before that the village we live in is insanely charming and so picturesque that it looks like a film set. It is also a very safe place to live, the kind of place where parcel deliveries can be left on doorsteps and café tables in the market square don’t have to be chained up or put away indoors. We have slowly become country people who cook at home and stop and talk to our neighbours. Yes, the internet connection can be spotty at times and there are no car-sharing services or sushi restaurants, but the nights are quiet and without drama, and when we look up at the night sky, we can see the stars.