Paper construction of farmhouse by Matthew Sporzynski
Credit: Monica Buck

So this past weekend my husband and I took Eldest and Baby (Middle is at camp) to meet my youngest sister’s new baby. My youngest sister lives 4 hours away in Pennsylvania , on a dirt road across the street from a giant meadow with only one other house in sight. She has three children and nine chickens and a mean rooster who appears to have feathers on his feet. I, for one, did not know birds could grow feathers on their feet, which is yet another example of what a city slicker I seem to have become.

My sister also has two giant vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and a creek running through the back yard. On her porch is a bench that, when I was there, held three jars filled with different sorts of bugs for her children to study up close. She decorated the bedroom I stayed in with daisies that she picked in the meadow, and after dinner one night we walked through that meadow to pick blackberries that were growing along the road. And in case you’re wondering: no, of course she doesn’t have a t.v.

The whole experience nearly killed me. You see, my sister is living the life I thought I would be living, except for the chickens part, which I find completely overwhelming and a bit creepy. (Even she is opposed to the chickens, and when her husband went on a recent business trip and she was responsible for putting them back in the hen house in the evening, she almost decapitated the rooster by accident. It was such a funny, weird story that I nearly fell out of the car when she told it.) Instead, I am living in a town outside of New York City that is surrounded by highways; in fact, the hum of I-95 is pretty much unavoidable, no matter where you are. When my children aren’t playing sports on an artificial turf—or at the very least, extremely manicured—field, they are playing Wii or watching The Simpsons. (OK, I exaggerate a bit: they do read a book from time to time, when forced by one of their parents. And they can identify a few bugs—at least bees and fireflies.)

So now I am in a full-on existential crisis, fueled by wild blackberries and the fantasy of an existence without I-95 or t.v. Isn’t there some sort of pill I can take for this?