By Daniela Caride
You move to Lincoln, a small town where everyone has known each other forever. That’s exactly what you want. What you need. You got that really huge mortgage to fulfill your dream of belonging. Of enjoying your little town, its tranquility, its tantalizing fields and pastures.
You picture yourself smiling, your blood pressure so low you experience pure heavenly bliss. You see yourself standing in one of those awesome fields finally practicing that Sivananda yoga you never went back to after you accepted that supposedly awesome job offer.
You make a mental note. No more KitKat. Just energy bars and fresh air.
You are engaged. You are energized. You move in, sign up to get emails from the town group email and resolve that you will get very involved with everything going on in your lovely little town.
You sign up for garden club, PTA and some other volunteer gig at the library. When you think you finally understood the real meaning of organic, GMO and fair trade, a snow storm sweeps away your dreams of eating that heirloom tomato you were trying to save from an army of chipmunks, squirrels and woodchucks (whatever the latter may be).
It’s OK. Everything looks very white and very beautiful. You take the opportunity to snap 30 idyllic pictures of your backyard and post them on Facebook. All your 978 Facebook friends make lovely remarks about where you live. You are sure they are all jealous, especially the friends you don’t know.
While you shovel, you make a mental note of doing a Facebook-friend spring cleanup sooner rather than later.
Now that you got rid of all your moving boxes on Craigslist, Lincoln Talk and Freecycle, and are repurposing your styrofoam too, you are proud of yourself. The snow starts melting, and before you know it, a steady stream of emails about very well-thought proposals of town projects, which range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, come pouring in. You squint really hard to read all that amidst the day-to-day chaos of your life with that supposedly awesome job, the kids, the dogs, the cat, the turtle you rescued and the volunteer gigs. Oh, and your failing eyesight.
You make a mental note to go see the eye doctor asap. Or not. You won’t see much.
The town meeting emails come with short and very long videos attached. They come with short and very long texts attached. You try to squeeze in one more video while you shower. You can’t hear it very well with the water pouring down, even though you have a low-flow shower head. You bring the phone closer to the shower and…. oops! It dies a terrible wet death in the bathtub. You say Oh no! very loudly for everyone to hear, but deep down you are pleased you won’t have to answer the phone for a day or two.
You make a mental note of getting the new iPhone model that is so waterproof that you can even flush it down the toilet and retrieve it intact with the help of a septic system crew. At least that’s what you heard. You also remember you need to find out what is a septic system, an oil heater, and why your baseboards were clanking so hard all winter.
Then one day you get a massive book in the mail that says “Town Meeting”. Oh shoot. You find out it comes with a little book too, and an addendum printed on a green sheet. You like the shade of green but don’t particularly like the size of the font. Waaaay too small. Ok. You know you are supposed to read it all. So you start thinking. Well, you are a problem solver. You are an overachiever. If you shave off an hour of sleep every night, and are a no-show at the next book club meeting, you may get through the big book before the end of the week.
You scan a few pages of the big book the next evening and get a sudden feeling that something ominous will happen. Maybe an asteroid is coming or something. You consider practicing Sivananda yoga to relax but you can’t. It’s late. You need to get that newsletter in for the RRT2 project from the PTA tomorrow. Or was it PTO? You get lost in the sea of acronyms that flash through your brain — you let all those nonsensical words from the email blasts dance freely in front of you until you fall asleep.
A week elapses with no progress with the big book. You get 30 more emails with 2 additional really neat proposals to improve your awesome town, and your neighbors go bonkers replying, recommending, criticizing and suggesting. Everyone seems very on top of all of the subjects, especially the ones with at least 3 acronyms. That week you had 4 nightmares, 5 melatonin pills, 2 panic attacks and a headache. You have also analyzed thoroughly the personalities of 14 neighbors who email a lot at Lincoln Talk, so you can perform better at Town meeting. You love 2 of them (they are funny), hate 1 (the one who is always sarcastic is bad karma) and like 11 well enough, even though you can’t recognize any of them in person.
You make a mental note to check the black & white pictures of those 5 town newsletters you piled up in your office, to try to put a face to the names.
Another week goes by. You accept the fact that you can’t read the big book. Maybe the small one. Maybe you can get some concepts in if you apply that speed-reading technique you learned by correspondence. Shoot. You remember you sped through those manuals too.
Town Meeting Day finally arrives. You haven’t finished that paid gig with a looming deadline. You haven’t finished any of the books. But you are feeling you can still make it to the meeting at least, and sit way in the back. It’s your chance to learn how to knit.
You decide you’ll finish your work in the morning, while you follow the LTM tweets on your phone. (Yes!! You are getting a hold of creating your own acronyms!!) Shoot. You forgot to turn on the washing machine. But who cares. You can wear your dirty yoga pants for Town meeting, aka PJs that look slightly better than sweatshirts.
You gulp down your lunch, and by 1PM you are done with work, grab your basket and the car keys. You are ready! And on your way through the kitchen! You will make it!
And there is the Big Book sprawled on the table. It stares at you. Glares at you. The Book and all its projects weigh on your conscience. You realize you don’t even know how much the Town Budget is. How can you vote Yes or No if you don’t know how much you can spend?
The room starts spinning. The basket falls. Car keys escape your failing grip. You collapse right there. Defeated. You consider the meaning of life on the floor and wonder how and when things got so frigging complicated. You crawl to the fridge and start eating vanilla ice cream out of the carton with a dirty spoon you found in the sink. It’s OK, you think. It could be worse. At least it’s organic.
And while you experience a severe sugar rush, you resolve that next year you. Can. Do it. You can feel it now. Next year you will be ready to vote on everything with complete confidence. You will be on first-name terms with all the Selectmen. You will even know how many Selectmen we have in town.