For the last eight years, I’ve lived on a farm in rural Alabama.
In the movies, when city people arrive in the country, all kinds of funny, wacky things happen.
The other Hollywood default, of course, is best typified by John Boorman’s film of James Dickey’s tremendous 1970 novel, Deliverance. (Dickey’s cameo as a redneck lawman is superb. Watch for it near the end of the movie.)
Before I became a resident of Coburn Mountain, it was college towns and big cities. Culture and nightlife were always around the corner, or a short drive away. As a writer and musician, I never had to look far for work or inspiration.
More importantly, wherever I went I made new friends. I enjoyed the estimable pleasures of belonging to a community of people who also appreciated the thrill of walking the thin line between soul-crushing poverty and bohemian splendor.
It took me a while to figure out how to be happy here on the farm. I might as well have parachuted into the Amazon basin.
When you’re used to living life at a certain tempo and volume, peace and quiet can be disorienting, daunting. Complete solitude requires a kind of mental toughness I’d never had to cultivate.
After a year on the mountain, I was ready to leave. I’d always wanted to live in New Orleans, and my NOLA friends made sure I knew the welcome mat was out.
So one sunny weekend in August of 2005, I loaded up about half of my worldly possessions and delivered them to the Uptown apartment of an ex-girlfriend, who had graciously offered me a place to stay during the transition.
I returned to the farm to finish packing. I wasn’t in a hurry. I felt like I’d already pulled the trigger. I was doing something I’d done a dozen times before, picking up, moving on. C’est la vie. Despite New Orleans’ semi-deserved rep as a cruel banana republic, I knew I’d find a way to make it there.