...“Well, I miss concerts and libraries and … oh, a lot of things,” sighed Dora. “I even miss freeway gridlock, sometimes. But I’m getting used to it.”
“You already got used to the snow plowing,” I agreed.
Dora blushed. When she first moved to Hardyville she famously violated the modern Code of the West. She moved onto a scenic little acreage half a mile past the sign that said, “Road not plowed beyond this point.” Then, come the first snowstorm, she went howling into the county commissioners’ office, reminding them that since she lived there now, they’d darn well better not “forget” to plow for her.
True, they weren’t plowing her road. Just like the sign says, M’am. And they couldn’t see any reason to deplete their tiny road maintenance budget now, just because some snooty college girl from Connecticut never learned how to read.
Unlike many notorious California folks — or New York folks — or Denver folks, for that matter, Dora got it. She shut up and started trading with a local rancher — Nat. He plows, she delivers home baked bread. Dora learned. But too many transplant folks would just sit and whine about the lack of services until they finally got what they wanted — and got our taxes launched into the sky. Or they’d leave, sniveling all the way to the coast about how we benighted rubes failed to appreciate their Bountiful Efforts to Improve Our Community.
You see, that’s what I mean when I say Hardyville is a state of mind. It’s not where Hardyville is that matters. It’s how Hardyville is. If you honestly want Hardyville, and all the cranky, troublesome, but spirit-filling independence it implies, then don’t bring your dependencies to Hardyville. Don’t bring them anywhere else you go, for that matter.
You want to live in Hardyville? I tell you the secret, then, that Hardyville is as real as it is imaginary. It’s at least as real, and as much a part of twentieth-century America, as Atlanta or Minneapolis. More real than Los Angeles, Washington, DC or Aspen, Colorado.
How do you get there? If you can’t find Lonelyheart Pass, you can start in the direction of Hardyville by thinking about the way you’re living now. Are you racing like a little maze-rat, just to keep yourself in fancy toys? Do you fantasize about independence while tying yourself to every tax-funded service available? Are you living vicariously, via television? Do you choose to spend your days in a little gray cube? Is your mind in a little gray cube? Are you giving your freedom away to every diktat spewed by some gov-o-crat, because you’re too risk-averse to declare that your life belongs to you? Have you put your kids in day care, soccer and gymnastics, more than in your life? Do you hate your life, but somehow never manage to take real steps to fix it? Are you using people — or being used by them — instead of having honest relationships? When it comes right down to it, do you choose convenience over independence? Do you choose the status quo over the uncertainties of happiness? Do your deeds fail to match your words, your hopes and your ideals?
Then you’re not on the road to Hardyville. If you want to be on the road to Hardyville, then turn around.
Oh yes, Hardyville exists. And no, it isn’t a quaint throwback to the past. It isn’t some nostalgic remnant of nineteenth-century Americana. It’s as modern and accessible as any other place, in its own way. But it’s too inconvenient for contemporary tastes.
Most people will never make it anywhere near Hardyville. Even — maybe especially — most people who say they want to. Hardyville, like freedom, will remain the province of a few who give enough of a damn to put up with the inconveniences, or who care enough to change their hearts and lives for a more fulfilling, but somewhat risky, life...