Opening Hearts and Minds:

City Girl or Country Girl?

By Suzen Fiskin
Reader Columnist

Before moving to Sandpoint nearly 10 years ago, I was a dyed-in-the-wool city girl. I was born in New York City, grew up in L.A., built an ad agency in San Francisco, lived in Phoenix, moved back to California, then spent a two-year stint speaking and coaching in Seattle.

When I considered moving to our fair town, I was really worried that I would feel city deprivation. I’d miss the endless ways to occupy my time—live music, plays, meet-ups, shopping, a rainbow of multicultural restaurants, museums, the beach, coaching organizations, and on and on. And let me not forget the diversity of humanity that I enjoy in the land of LA.

Yet I felt lonely much of the time in the big city. It’s kind of weird to feel the most isolated in big crowds, yet I did, and still do. It’s almost as if you have to insulate and isolate yourself more when there’s too little personal space.

I’m writing this in L.A., and am here for a second two-week trip in the last two months. I’ve had a chance to notice a few things that call my former city girl status into question.

I’ve done a whole lot of walking in the city of Glitz and have made an informal study about making eye contact with people on the street. The City of the Angels has a lot of people on the sidewalks, but few ever connect with one another. I’d say that maybe 10 percent of the time the person would look back when I tried to catch their eye.

Then there is the information overload here. Yes, there are a wealth of things to do, but there are so many, how the heck do you choose? And when you do find something interesting, there are the transportation challenges that come with moving around town that have to be considered. I often found myself giving up and plopping myself in front of the tube or a book instead of sifting through all of the local papers to find just the right thing to do.

Now we all know that L.A. is all about automobiles. If you haven’t been here, or haven’t been here in a number of years, you, too, may be as surprised as I about how ridiculously true this is. There’s traffic EVERYWHERE at all hours, and parking is a constant source of stress. I walked by a hotel in Santa Monica, close to where I was staying, and the parking rate was $18 an hour.  Yes, they do cap it at $54 so that you were home free for the day, in a manner of speaking, after 3 hours. Holy cow!

I don’t know how people make and keep appointments. That 10-mile trip to keep a date may take 12 minutes or three hours, depending on the luck of the draw of traffic. It used to be that there were safe hours to travel, but no more. L.A. has been built up beyond belief. It was around 7 million in 1970, and is now around 10 million—and it shows!

And let’s not forget about the cost of living here . . . the prices for everything are absurd! It’s like a whole other world and I don’t know how people make ends meet.

I’ve had fun being here, but must admit that I’m missing home – even though it’s 68 degrees in California, and more than 40 degrees colder in our fair town, I’m longing for the sense of community I feel in Sandpoint. I can go out just about anywhere and connect with people I know from many different facets of my life – there are the Angels Over Sandpoint sisters, my Happiness Coaching mates, my Broads Behaving Badly babes, folks from marketing clients like Pneumex, Sandpoint Transition peeps, singers-actors-and-artists I hang out with, Gardenia Center humans, and a plethora of other circles I rotate in and out of. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to be so connected.

I may not have the variety of choices for entertainment, shopping or food that I have in the city, but I have enough variety to keep it interesting in my new home town, and it’s really easy to pick what to do and with whom I’d like to do it!

Here, the only escape I can find from the inexorable buzz of the city that never sleeps is the beach which has it’s own special tumult! I remember trying to keep my sanity as a teenager in L.A. from the relentless noise by hopping the fence at the Botanical Gardens at UCLA and sitting in a tree. It was as  close to nature as I could get.

And so, as I pack to get back on a big bird to come home, even though it is colder than cold and I’m not a skier, I’m so looking forward to the warmth and caring of the community that has my heart.

Suzen Fiskin is a happiness coach, multi-media marketing wiz, and inspirational speaker. She’s also the author of the book, Playboy Mansion Memoirs. If you have any questions or comments, email her at: [email protected]

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