07/07/2014 01:04 pm ET Updated Sep 06, 2014

Bright Lights and Fireflies: Why I Need the City and the Country

Sasha Bell via Getty Images

You might say I have an identity crisis.

See, I love both the country and the city.

I grew up in the woods -- a small town where we cut the Christmas tree from the backyard, grew our own vegetables, and everyone knew me at the post office. You learned to make do with what you had on hand, as the nearest shopping was sometimes 20 miles away. I learned how to drive in a pickup truck, and came of age with friends on backcountry roads.

But oh, the wanderlust. I wanted to see everything that was out there. My love for cities began when I studied abroad in Spain. All of a sudden, I was exposed to all these new ideas, cultures and thoughts. I ate paella, drank sangria and went to El Prado. I traveled to Portugal and Italy and was in awe of the world out there. It was this wide and amazing fountain of discovery.

And this was where I discovered a love for city life. At least for me, I need the city to expand my horizons, to satiate my (likely insatiable) need for learning, to expose me to different backgrounds, different thoughts, and different cultures.

But I also need the country. And by "need," I mean "NEED." I need to connect to my roots, to get my hands in the dirt, to watch fireflies on a summer evening. I need to build a bonfire in the fall, surrounded by pumpkins and cider and the smell of fallen leaves. I need to look out to a field of snow and hear the quiet surround me. (Well, let's be clear: I need the snow as long as I don't have to shovel it).

So what's a girl to do? I have to have both. I have come to terms with that and I've totally made peace with it. I made the choice to live near a city. I live in the Washington, D.C., area and love all that the city has to offer. I love that major concerts come here, and that all the world's embassies are here. I like being a foodie in my town and being able to eat Ethiopian, Cuban, Spanish or Belgian food any given night if I want to. I love all the festivals and museum exhibits. I love being able to get to Europe in six hours, and New York in three.

In the city, I can constantly learn. I can flex my brain, explore new streets, meet someone from a different country, and reinvent myself or my career. I can go to an opening of a play one night, and a baseball game the next. An author I like has a new book coming out? No problem, they'll probably come to this literary city on their tour. I often reflect that I meet someone new each day and it amazes me.

But I know when the city life gets to me -- the traffic, the commute, the congestion and the pace. I need to drive down country roads on a summer night, with the windows open and the music at full volume. I need to stop at a roadside stand and get farm-fresh corn. I need my feet in the grass and farmers markets and the cadence of crickets at night. I need to wear jeans and flip flops and a ball cap. I need these hands in the dirt to ground me.

So I make that happen. I connect to my country girl -- both past and present -- as an investment into my sustainability of living in the city. I can give more at work, home, and to friends and family when I can recharge on a back country road.

I'm okay being the country girl in the city. Or the city girl in the country. I like the dichotomy, and I think both serve me well. I need both bright lights and fireflies, and that's okay by me.

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