And, they are right.
Or maybe it's that I am a hopeless romantic. (or maybe I am simply hopeless....?)
Last Saturday night I got to take (yet another) break from moving (did I mention it's my third move in just 11 months? I thought so) to go watch my best buddy's band play. They had a gig out in the teeny tiny town of Mist, Oregon..er....actually in Birkenfeld, Oregon, at the Birkenfeld Country Store (sorry, their website seems to be down right now) to be exact.
We drove nearly an hour and forty five minutes to find this little piece of rural America. (Oh, the things a person will do in the name of rock n'roll.) From the outside it looked like a Country Store, all right.
This place was a combination liquor-store-mini-market-diner-dance hall, all in one big room. To be perfectly honest, I was a bit leary that there would be any sort of crowd at this place when we arrived. It was pretty much out in the boonies you know, and the decor let you know that this place is very much a hunter's hang out, so trying to picture the place filled with folks wanting to rock out was a stretch.
The band was to play early; from 7:00-10:00, and that was a little unusual as well.
I needn't have been concerned in the least, because by 7:15 there were already about ten people in the place, and by 8:00 the place was jumpin'. Seriously, some of the nicest (And funnest) folks in America clearly live in Vernonia, or Mist, or Berkinfeld, or one of the other teeny tiny spots off the Nehalem Highway near the Berkinfeld Country Store. It was clear that everyone knew where they needed to be on Saturday nights, and this was it. And everyone danced. (My new friend Lu even danced with my best buddy as he played guitar, on her way out the door for some fresh air.)
According to Mike (the owner of the Birkenfeld Country Store) Birkenfeld itself boasts a population of 12. I told him I wanted to move there. Really.
What was so fabulous about this place? Well, it was kinda like a cross between walking into a John Mellenkamp song and that big dance scene in Footloose, if that makes any sense at all. Rural America. The real deal. (okay, the real deal in my fantasy world anyway.) Each time someone came through the door, you'd see everyone in the room give them a smile and wave hello, 'coz they all knew each other. Ages ranged from early 30's to late 80's and that's no joke.
And the couples.
Oh, the couples. There were Lu and Bob, who could literally out dance anyone that has ever been on Dancing with the Stars. (Married 48 years and counting, Bob originally was Amish, or a Mennonite, I can't remember which, and Lu taught him how to dance....little did they know he was a dancing natural!) and Carol and Dick, another couple that were smooth as glass on the dance floor as well. So much fun to watch!
Each time a slow song came up, I'd absolutely swoon as I watched Lu and Bob, and Carol and Dick, along with all of the other rural sweethearts, like little perfect salt and pepper shakers, paired up on the dance floor. Aaaah, be still my heart. I am a sap for anything remotely looking like romance.
Another incredibly romantic slow-dance couple were the Country Store owners. Mike would find his way out from behind the counter, and onto the dance floor, and his adorable wife Windy (Wendy?) would come out of the kitchen or where ever she might be and they'd fall into each others arms for three minutes of swaying and canoodling to the music. Mmmm hmmm. Sweetest thing I've ever seen.
As the evening wound down, the couples began to say their good byes and head home, two by two, ending another perfect Saturday night in this quaint lil' part of rural America, and I couldn't stop myself from feeling oh-so-terribly envious of them. Of their slower pace of life. Of the pure blessing of getting to live in small-town America. (And, in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest, no less!) Of the fact that they had each other to slow dance with, to go home and climb into a cozy bed with, and wake up on Sunday morning with. Absolutely Pea green with envy, and a longing so big it almost made my chest ache, that they have a to-the-finish-line sweetheart to moon over in this seemingly perfect small town life, and all that comes with it.