Country life? I’ll pass


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The anti-NYC TV series “Bless This Mess” has hit the air waves starring Dax Shepard and Lake Bell.

It’s this century’s “Green Acres,” which I watched as a child in my Bronx living room. When Eva Gabor as socialite wife Lisa would sing in the show’s theme song, “New York is where I’d rather stay, I get allergic smelling hay, I just adore a penthouse view, darling I love you but give me Park Avenue,” even at ten, I thought, Lady, I’m with you.

This time around, newlyweds Rio and Mike move from Manhattan’s “rat race” to what they think will be a more relaxed and fulfilling existence on a farm in rural Nebraska.

To quote the show’s tag line: who knew the simple life would be so hard?

Everyone I’ve ever worked with who arrived from somewhere where the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye has done so to escape the boredom and lack of opportunity offered by a small-town life. They come here for the excitement and all the possibilities that New York has to offer.

I have suffered through many conversations where our newly minted denizens felt the need to explain to me how they were too big time for their small-time upbringing and how they were going to take my city by storm a la Madonna.

Down the road, these same people can’t wait to rub in my face how they’re leaving. They can’t wait to “get out of here” because this is no place to raise children. They couldn’t understand how or why I would do it either. Didn’t I want a yard?

Of all the hopes and dreams I’ve had during the course of my life, a yard has never made the cut. I’ve never had any desire to mow.

I have a number of friends and relatives who live in the bucolic suburbs. They practically live in their cars, whether it be to go grocery shopping, do school drop off and pick up, or meet a friend for lunch.

Everything I need is basically across the street, around the corner, or down the block. I am grateful to live in a walking city where, honestly, even if I wanted to 10,000-step it all the way downtown, I could. I’d probably be exhausted when I got there, but then I’d go into one of the ubiquitous Starbucks and regroup.

If I’m ever too tired, lazy or in a such a hurry that my little legs can’t carry me, I hop in a cab or on public transportation.

As an Upper East Sider, my backyard is Central Park and Carl Schurz — yes I have two.

People who grew up in non-city environments tell me they used to hang out in the parking lot behind the 7-Eleven or in people’s basements. My now grown son used to hang out on the steps of The Met and the Great Lawn.

Make no mistake, I’m aware my hometown has its stress inducing moments. It’s busy, it’s hectic, it’s competitive; someone always seems to be in your way, literally and figuratively. It makes you tough at an early age, as well as cynical. But the upside of this is, as the song says, if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.

And yes, even I, the native New Yorker who loves her city and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else, gets to the point where I’ve had it “up to here.” That’s what vacations are for.

But no matter where I go or how beautiful, tranquil or stress-free that destination may be, upon returning, the New York skyline always takes my breath away and I’m grateful to be back home.

I realize there are plenty of Rios and Mikes out there who can’t relate to this. I hope they will pack up their cares and NYC woes posthaste and spare the rest of us for whom “I love New York” is not just a slogan.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the NYC mom novel “Back to Work She Goes.”





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