Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Where's the Starbucks?

I admit it; I’m a city girl. As an urban dweller, I had taken some things for granted—the neighborhood Starbucks, a choice of movie theaters, Chinese take-out, and high speed Internet connection. These are luxuries I had grown accustomed to. But that all changed when my husband took a job as a full-time fireman in a rural fire department.

When I say rural, I mean the boondocks—the town boasts a population of three thousand. It’s an old mining town stuck out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains and desert. Civilization is a forty-minute drive away.

I wasn’t thrilled with the move, but really what choice did I have? There was a rule on the books saying that any fireman had to live within the town borders.

Weeks of packing, and suddenly I found myself smack dab in the midst of small town living. Everywhere I went people demanded to know who I was and where I lived. People I had never seen before waved at me as I drove by. I was accustomed to being a faceless cog in the city; now I felt as though I was constantly being stalked by strangers.

Slowly I learned to adapt. I bought a French press, learned to use a wok and joined Netflicks. It was an awkward, and at times painful, adjustment, but I survived. Still, sometimes I can’t help but laugh at the odd quirks that come with small town living.

The UPS driver will find me wherever I am. He stalks my red Bronco, the only one in town, and he will deliver my packages to me as I stand in line at the bank.

Everyone in town owns a scanner. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot going on, and if something is going on, everyone wants to know about it. I got tired of being out of the information loop and demanded my own scanner so now I can sit with the rest of the population and listen in on all the fire and police calls.

All aspects of your life are up for public scrutiny. This summer we decided it was time to get a pool. It didn’t take long to realize everyone was keeping track of the pool’s progress. I was bombarded daily with questions from my bank clerk, the UPS man, the grocer, the postmistress, the bank manager. The foremost question on everyone’s mind? When was it going to be done?

The desert is now all around my house, which means the creepies and crawlies don’t have far to creep and crawl. Every year we find five or six scorpions in the house. The most memorable scorpion experience over the years? The morning I got out of the shower and grabbed a towel to dry myself off only to realize there was a scorpion hanging on it. I went from dead tired and half awake, to wide eyed and screaming in a matter of seconds.

I have to admit I have grown to love the odd quirks of small-town living.

So, readers, do you live in a big city or small town? And what are things you love about it? And the things that drive you nuts? And if you join in and give us some examples of your big city or small town life I will get Sherryl to randomly pick from the comments, and I will send the person she picks something from Superior, Arizona. Thanks, Sherryl, for allowing me to stop by and blog.

Chaoscat, www.romancejunkies.com

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Blogger Susan said...

I live in a small town much like yours, except it's in the mountains, and everything you said is so true! LOL

We have two scanners, one for each end of the house. Having lived here all my life I can't imagine living in a big city.

My favorite thing is being able to trust the people in town.

November 14, 2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger vanessa jaye said...

Did you say scorpions? =:-O

I guess it's time I stop complaining about the centipedes that this city girl has seen/encountered for the first time in her life since moving to the suburbs smackdab beside a ravine/extensive parklands.


November 14, 2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger Anara Bella said...

Scorpions?!!! OMG!!!! Nuff said. =)

I live in the city and I'm quite happy here, thank you. LOL

I'm spoiled rotten and I freely admit it. I like being able to jump in my car and be at the mall or grocery store in less than five minutes. I like being able to order any kind of take-out I'm in the mood for. But the thing I love best, and don't think I could do without, is my high-speed Internet.

Told you I was spoiled rotten. LOL

Oh, and since I pretty much freak out any time I see a spider, I think if I found anything more exotic than that in my home it would almost kill me. LMBO


November 14, 2007 3:33 PM  
Blogger Billie Jo said...

I am a city girl all the way! I like the convenience of being able to walk to the park or go pick up milk right around the corner. I also like that we don't have the nasty little creatures that the country folks have, shudders.

Great topic!

Billie Jo

November 14, 2007 4:04 PM  
Blogger karende said...

I grew up on the edge of a city [St Louis, we’re talking CITY here], and took it all for granted. Museums, eclectic [and segregated in many ways] neighborhoods, live theatre, the Municipal Opera, movies, you name it. Then I got married at 19 and almost immediately left for the Pacific Northwest. Rural PNW. The first summer I spent on an Indian reservation on the Olympic Peninsula, where the only radio station was from Nanaimo, in Canada. No TV. We also visited the ‘town’ in Oregon where my husband grew up - they’d only had electricity for a few years, and a lot of the places still didn’t have indoor plumbing, beyond a hand pump at the kitchen sink. And there was the ranch in northeastern Oregon where the line shack we lived in had a woodstove for heat and cooking, and mountain lions came down and clambered around on the rooftop. Due to various reasons [none of which were the new living conditions] my husband and I split up and I went to Alaska. Rural Alaska. An island, in fact. There was no TV, a weekly paper, one radio station provided by the military base, and mostly gravel roads. On the other hand, when I got there, I met someone who’d gotten a thank you letter sent to him from someone he’d kept company on the plane Outside, and it was addressed to “Jerry Who Lives Alone in the Woods and Has His Own Boat.” Can you imagine something like that actually being delivered anywhere else?

It did get somewhat more modernized over the next 30 years that I lived there, but it was still very Small Town. Directions to houses weren't street numbers, they were “2 doors past so-and-so’s house” or “around the corner behind this or that business.” I loved it and I miss it, but I have no real choice regarding returning. It was definitely life on the edge of the Wild West, though.

November 14, 2007 9:11 PM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

It's really interesting that this topic has sparked so much conversation. Maybe it's the mention of scorpions!

I really relate to it myself, since I divide my time between the culturally rich and diverse Miami and a tiny beach town in Virginia. I love the mix...trading Starbucks for the local coffee shop, trading madhouse traffic and bad drivers for country roads...and bad drivers, and my balcony container garden for a yard filled with lilacs, tiger lilies and a lot of very determined weeds.

However it was the tale of the UPS driver that really hit home. I once had a DHL driver who couldn't find my house leave my galley for an upcoming book at the Episcopal Church where it was given sanctuary until the secretary could track me down. Of course, this is also the town where a very helpful soul brought a carload of fans to my house just to say hi while I was busy digging in my garden. They may never think of me quite the same way!

November 15, 2007 5:24 AM  
Blogger Ciara Gold said...

This sounds just like my inlaw's small town. I live in a fairly large town and growing every day. I hate the traffic and would love to move to the country. Oh well. Maybe when I retire from the day job.

November 17, 2007 8:31 AM  
Blogger deseng said...

Hi Chaos,

Glad to have you here! I am from a small town where everyone knows you. Well, almost practically! I can go anywhere in our small town and almost always bump into someone I know. It is really a beautiful area here in Chesterton, Indiana. It is 5 minutes away from Lake Michigan.

We are known for the Wizard of Oz festival. We have a store here that is devoted to everything Oz. During the festival time in September the surviving munchkins travel here and pose for pictures and autographs.

It is a beautiful area with many miles of unspoiled beaches. We have parks galore where you can camp out during the summer. The summers are hot and humid but I am used to it. The winters are pretty cold and blustery. I can remember many winters where we were snowed in.

As for bugs, we can't top your scorpions but we do have pretty big spiders, snakes, and lot's of mosquitos! We get the big wolf spiders in our basement. They are so big they almost look like a tarantula! They aren't hairy though. Oh and we get hornets, wasps, and bees galore around here in the summer! Those are the bugs I really don't like!

All in all I really love my town. I do dream of moving someday to a warmer climate. Maybe someday I will!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Michele L.

November 19, 2007 2:45 PM  
Blogger catslady said...

I'm a girl from the suburbs. I think I'd be afraid of city life but country living appeals to me. What I hate is that you have to drive to get anywhere and I'm not thrilled with driving. What I like is that at least you're not too far away driving wise. I guess I'd like the best of all worlds - being able to walk to exciting places but feel safe and having a garden and solitude all at the same time. Oh well, maybe in another lifetime lol.

November 19, 2007 7:25 PM  
Blogger cptmelissa said...

Happy Thanksgiving.

I have lived a variety of places from Germany to Korea to DC and now a small city in Ohio, but I have always lived in the suburbs of the towns. I like having a yard to plant things in (I tried container gardening at our townhouse in DC without success), being able to go just about anywhere in a short period of time, and now I have a Starbucks at my local Kroger’s, which is 1 mile away. I actually walk there sometimes.

We are anticipating moving to a VERY big city soon, with a high crime rate (one of the top 10 in the US). We are trying to decide if we want to move closer in to decrease our commute, but I am not sure how I would deal with the safety issue. I mean, in the last 2 houses in the suburbs, I have had centrally monitored alarm systems put in to make me feel safer. Not sure if that would be enough to make me feel safe in Cleveland. :-/

Anyway, I have loved the stories about the small towns where everyone knows you and the UPS/DHL driver stalk you to make a delivery. LOL Maybe some day....

November 22, 2007 7:44 AM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

Happy Thanksgiving (or day after, anyway) to all of you. Cptmelissa, I can't help chiming in on your fears about Cleveland. My goddaughter and her siblings were all born and raised in Cleveland, so I've visited often. Haven't spent a huge amount of time downtown, but they all seem really happy in the various suburbs -- Willowick, Mentor, Concord. And my goddaughter's mom lives in Concord, which I seem to recall is on the east side of downtown and works near the airport, which I'm pretty sure is on the west side. She manages the commute okay. Don't trust me on the geography, though, just on the fact that they all love it there and don't seem to want to live anywhere else.

As for security systems, I had one installed on my house in Miami years ago after several burglaries. The stupid thing would go off if the wind blew or if there was lightning around. I was a wreck. Finally gave up and moved into a gated condo.

Good luck with your upcoming move. Hope wherever you land, it's safe and serene.

November 23, 2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

And a postscript for cmtmelissa, I forgot to mention that my goddaughter in Willowick is about to put her house on the market and move into one they're having built just around the corner. So...do I have a house and neighborhood for you!!

November 23, 2007 10:39 AM  
Blogger cptmelissa said...

Hi, Sherryl,

Wow, Willowick sounds like a definite possibility if I get the new job and we move. I Mapquested it, and while it is 30 miles to our current offices in Brecksville, it would only be 14 miles from the new offices that we would be moving to in about a year or so. Definitely a possibility worth looking into. My only concern is how much lake effect snow they get there. :-)

Won't know about whether I get the promotion until after the new year. But I will defnintely let you know! Thanks for the tip.


November 23, 2007 11:11 AM  
Blogger traveler said...

I lived in a large city all my life but now live in a medium sized city which I love. It is easy to get around and I have access to everything within 15 minutes. The convenience factor is great. I do enjoy smaller places now that I live here and would never be able to live in a large city anymore. My Southwest escape is a real home.

December 22, 2007 7:37 PM  

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