Living in NYC makes me nostalgic for my childhood town
December 3, 2019 2:09 AM   Subscribe

I grew up in an extremely normal suburb in central Connecticut. It was big enough that we had more than one Dunkin’, but small enough that we didn’t have a Starbucks. As a teen, my friends and I spent a lot of time in cars, idling outside our crushes houses until someone came to the front window and then we’d peel away, a blur of manicured lawns disappearing behind us. My town was fine, but as a dramatic teenager I found it lacking the cultural cache (re: Starbucks) that could elevate my tortured existence.
posted by growabrain (45 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked this article, because I know the same feeling of fantasizing about a quainter, cooler version of your hometown while you're living somewhere else.

It's not about really believing that your hometown would be better to live in, as she points out. It's more like a dream of an alternate life. I'm definitely guilty of that escapist diversion, rewriting my old boring and narrow-minded -- but also pretty and affordable -- childhood town into Mayberry or Stars Hollow.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:28 AM on December 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


Copy! It’s “cultural cachet”.
posted by nicwolff at 3:30 AM on December 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


Like the author, I also grew up in a small Connecticut town before moving to a city.

All I can say is that she must have been one of the popular kids, because my experience of living in a small Connecticut town is nowhere near as rosy. If you're one of the weird kids, your angst about how "I've gotta get out of this place" is mirrored by the rest of the town unconsciously sending you the message "yeah, we agree, you should". Never in a mean way, mind you - but you are always sort of held at arm's-length and treated like a bit of a stranger, despite having grown up in the damn place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:41 AM on December 3, 2019 [56 favorites]


I've never really had much nostalgia over my suburban NJ hometown. It's a pretty little town but I feel zero connection to it at this point.
posted by octothorpe at 3:44 AM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Within the next 5 years, this writer will not only have left NYC for the suburbs, but will have written a memoir about moving to the suburbs as well.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:47 AM on December 3, 2019 [41 favorites]


idling outside our crushes houses until someone came to the front window and then we’d peel away

They would do what, now?
posted by NoMich at 4:50 AM on December 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


This is basically the song "Subdivisions" by Rush as a personal essay.
posted by smelendez at 4:51 AM on December 3, 2019 [11 favorites]


Copy! It’s “cultural cachet”.

Not in a two dunkin town!
posted by srboisvert at 5:09 AM on December 3, 2019 [8 favorites]



Like the author, I also grew up in a small Connecticut town before moving to a city.

All I can say is that she must have been one of the popular kids, because my experience of living in a small Connecticut town is nowhere near as rosy. If you're one of the weird kids, your angst about how "I've gotta get out of this place" is mirrored by the rest of the town unconsciously sending you the message "yeah, we agree, you should". Never in a mean way, mind you - but you are always sort of held at arm's-length and treated like a bit of a stranger, despite having grown up in the damn place.


*waves at EmpressCallipygos*

I also grew up in a tiny town in rural Connecticut. I spent my teen years in a deep depression, feeling the desperate urge to escape from the wide expanses of nothing. I'd describe it as claustrophobia more than agoraphobia, though, because it actually felt like the skies were closing in on me. This was buoyed by the fact that even if I'd had a car to drive, there was nowhere to go--the nearest grocery store was 6 miles away, the nearest live music venue was in Northampton MA, 90 minutes north. Not a visit back for the holidays passes without me recalling the old Patton Oswalt skit about the test of the small town.
When you're growing up in a nondescript, soulless, boring town, you've been given a gift from god: the test of the small town. You pass the test when you go "I'm leaving before I kill everyone and then myself." You fail when you go "I'll get a job at the Citgo and fill my truck up for free!"
Now I live in Boston, and I can tell you with some certainty that I do not share the author's Hallmark Network Christmas Special view of small hometowns.
posted by Mayor West at 6:03 AM on December 3, 2019 [19 favorites]


If you're one of the weird kids, your angst about how "I've gotta get out of this place" is mirrored by the rest of the town unconsciously sending you the message "yeah, we agree, you should".

Yeah, we moved around when I was a kid and I don't have fond memories of the small towns. I've lived in small places as an adult and liked them fine, but they were hell as an adolescent especially.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:06 AM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


CT transplant here. I read half the article and then spent half an hour trying to figure out which central Connecticut town she lived in. She referred to it as a "suburb" so I figured it was not the somewhat lower-class middle-of-nowhere town where I live (and EC formerly lived *wink*).

The Jackson Browne cover band reference gave me something to work with, so I'm fairly sure I know which one it is. It's not one of the super-tony suburbs near Hartford but it's pretty nice. I think that's why she can draw the picturesque Stars Hollow picture. I love my town but I don't think I could (except for the town meetings, which my wife swears up and down are either from Stars Hollow or Pawnee, Indiana--the creation of another CT denizen, for what it's worth).
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:29 AM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Huh. Maybe I'm just a weirdo, but I grew up in an "idyllic" small town (meaning: all white, something the author doesn't bother mentioning) and I've never felt the slightest twinge of nostalgia for the place.

But then, I've never really felt much attached to any place I've lived perhaps because I live mostly inside my own head and these days online. As long as I've got books, a well stocked Asian market in driving distance, and a fast net connection I'm largely indifferent to where I am. One place seems about the same as another.

I'm vaguely happy that I now live in a place with comparatively few Trump bumper stickers and comparatively more [insert Democrat here] bumper stickers.

It does make me wonder though, as we move into a more fully automated future and presumably into a life more like the old British upper class had, one centered around social life rather than work life, will we see a surge in small towns again? Or is all the nostalgia just nostalgia and is everyone who talks about small towns like the author in that they acknowledge it's pure fantasy and they don't really want to live in one?

For that matter, I suspect that a huge part of the popularity of online gaming is that it allows for that sort of 50 to 200 person in group that you got in small towns and that we seem to have evolved to gravitate towards. Maybe the rise of a new sort of alternate life VR game for some people? Live in the city for the convenience and all the advantages, but spend much of your time in a virtual town?
posted by sotonohito at 6:32 AM on December 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


This sounds like an NYC problem more than anything else. I grew up in a nondescript central NJ suburb and dove into city life first thing out of undergrad. Here in Philly, I'm about to move to a neighborhood full of beautiful tree-lined streets and quaint stores where I'll have both good bus service and the ability to walk into the woods on short notice. My old hometown is literally sandwiched between two major highways. Sure I'd have a lawn if I moved there, but why settle for a little patch of grass when I could have a place where I can walk to real parks? I have no nostalgia for what passes for large open space in my suburb because the city gave me more space than I could have ever dreamed of.

I don't mean to do the obnoxious "why do people even live in New York it's so crowded" thing, I just think some of this author's particular flavor of nostalgia is triggered by the uniquely cramped nature of NYC.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:39 AM on December 3, 2019 [12 favorites]


I moved to NYC from Philadelphia about seven years ago. The neighborhood in Philly that I grew up in, Tacony, is kind of like a small town grafted onto the city. Growing up it was very white, very insular, and very suspicious of the rest of the city—and the surrounding neighborhoods in the Northeast were similar. I couldn't wait to get out and live somewhere else, somewhere interesting with culture and diversity, and interesting people.

Before I moved to NYC, I lived for four years in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Spruce Hill. (Which, based on your description, ActionPopulated might be your new neighborhood, or close to it. Go hit up Fiume, at 45th and Locust, over the Ethiopian restaurant. If Kevin's behind the bar, tell him Rich sent you.) It was the perfect neighborhood for me. I had a nice apartment in a converted Victorian rowhome. I had easy access to the El, the Trolley, and to busses, including one that ran from Center City all night so I didn't need to take the El Shuttle Bus after going out dancing or seeing a show. I could walk to two grocery stores, multiple parks, had great coffee and bar options, and the neighborhood had character and diversity. And let's not forget the best falafel in the city at Saad's.

I'm happy in NYC, but I live in a boring, quiet, cheap neighborhood in Queens, an hour out from Manhattan on the subway. There's plenty to do here, and I've found a career I can make do with here—plus I live with my partner of many, many years—but I do miss Philly. I miss West Philly, I miss the vibe and the grit, and my old friends and haunts. I've zero nostalgia for the neighborhood of my youth, beyond an occasional craving for the pizza from my old pizza place. Even my parents moved out, going to one of those retirement condo places up in the Far Northeast.
posted by SansPoint at 6:57 AM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I came from a two-Shipley's town instead. It is a better donut, I maintain, but I have cast my lot with the Dunkin people of the North.

I wish very much that the town I grew up in was a town you could grow up to lead any kind of life in, but it wasn't the case. I was told early--with kindness and pride, at least--that what I was going to do was leave. But I would love it dearly if I could be home where I was home.

So I, too, belong to a FB group. I kind of fell into it; it mostly consists of Boomers and Silents lamenting various kinds of losses in the town, often in coded racial terms. You'd think the town was becoming a ghost town instead of increasing its black majority. And, of course, there are the right-wing posts. A new mod has clamped down on national politics, more or less, so I am now rarely making a scene with people who remember me from small times.

Why do I stay in it? There's news; in particular, there are death announcements I wouldn't have heard. And there are some posters who share invaluable history that might not be digitized. Sometimes this is in the form of pictures, sometimes it's local knowledge (who was that boy who died in the pool at that motel out on Hwy 82 and made them decide to fill it in? When was that?). But mainly, it's a clutch at identity: you can't decide I'm not from here because I think different, because I am different. I am one of you; I am one of you forever.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:09 AM on December 3, 2019 [11 favorites]


Any nostalgia I feel for my youth is at least half just a wish for the comforting obliviousness of childhood. The luxury of (mostly) not seeing all the problems in the world, in the neighborhood, in your home. The other half of it is probably just real estate pricing envy.

But for real though, nostalgia is an idiosyncratic form of escapism. Mind the dosage.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 7:31 AM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think what I find fascinating (and utterly unrelatable) is that she seems to just assume she would be "good" at suburban living and not mired in depression and stern letters from code enforcement.
posted by smelendez at 7:33 AM on December 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


I grew up in a small quaint seaside hamlet on Long Island, just a 45-minute train ride from Manhattan. I've been back to visit, and the greenery is nice, along with the Sweet Shop and cutesy Main Street diner. Also there are old friends and memories galore. Plus: community band concerts every Thursday in the summer, the soothing sounds of seagulls and boats, a top-tier school district with a flourishing arts program. There's a famous 10K and parade every year celebrating the town's founding, and a historical society where you can see what it looked like 150 years ago and buy mugs and t-shirts. Multiple nature preserves are just minutes away, offering soothing hikes and opportunities for ecological education. And only one alleged ritual Satanic murder in the last 40 years!

But I'll stick red hot pokers in my eyes before I move back to that racist, pseudo-liberal but largely Trump-Loving museum of a town.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:35 AM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


It is also so expensive now that most people who grew up there can't afford a home.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:39 AM on December 3, 2019


Ironically, the medium sized city I live in is markedly less diverse than the small town I grew up in. My NJ hometown is about 1/3 hispanic while my 300,000 person city is less than 3%.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 AM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


All I can say is that she must have been one of the popular kids, because my experience of living in a small Connecticut town is nowhere near as rosy. If you're one of the weird kids, your angst about how "I've gotta get out of this place" is mirrored by the rest of the town unconsciously sending you the message "yeah, we agree, you should".

I was the weird kid in a small town because I liked slightly different pop music and tv than the most popular kids (families), while still doing all the popular things (sports, school, etc) That is the level of conformity that I could never be nostalgic for, and I can't imagine a place like that for people that truly are different.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:47 AM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Who knew there were so many of us who grew up in small Connecticut towns? Huh. Suspicious.

Anyway, I found the essay intensely relatable; I too moved from the place where I grew up (well, place where I spent a big chunk of time at formative teenage years, anyway) to a much more urbanized area, and periodically when I go back to visit family—like I just did over Thanksgiving—there are things here and there that I miss. Perhaps less intensely than the author, because I'm not living in NYC and thus don't have that level of cultural disconnect (today, I live in the disputed no-man's-land between what's definitively urban and what's definitively suburban, which you can either regard as the best of both or the worst of both, depending on your view and how bad the traffic is on a particular day)... but I get it.

What I find somewhat disappointing is that the author never really seems to consider that there might be some way of reconciling these two things; that urban spaces might be made better—less trash, fewer rats, less smelling like piss, more intact communities, etc.—without making them unwalkable car-scale exurban wastelands full of tract faux-Colonial houses. And that those small towns might benefit from some of the services that make urban areas so desirable—walkable downtown areas, public transportation, cultural activities, jobs that don't require crushing commutes. Personally, I reject the notion that the two are mutually exclusive; to position them as opposites that can't be brought together, as an intrinsic zero-sum tradeoff, is defeatist, not to mention just plain depressing.

I'm not trying to shit on someone else's mindless relaxation activity, but maybe the solution here isn't to stare wistfully at Facebook groups from a place that you don't live in anymore and probably don't really want to move back to, and instead focus on the place you do really want to live in, and on making that place better and more livable.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:01 AM on December 3, 2019 [17 favorites]


Personally, I reject the notion that the two are mutually exclusive; to position them as opposites that can't be brought together, as an intrinsic zero-sum tradeoff, is defeatist

Maybe, but historically accurate. Why do you think there are no walkable downtowns, public transit, etc.? (Spoiler: the main answer is racism.)
posted by praemunire at 8:27 AM on December 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


Well, the author now seems to be a Cool Kid living in Brooklyn and writes for several sites, so yeah, it's possible to have once been the basic suburban white girl and still somewhat nostalgic for that. People contain multitudes!
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:33 AM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I keep seeing ads on Facebook encouraging me to take my proudly multi-racial family and move it to some soulless lily-white suburb. And why would I want to do that?

I don't know what it is about my hometown in particular that makes people want to trash Brooklyn so they can make wherever they come from look better by comparison, but it's very old and very boring. I'm sure whatever your town has going on, that it can be proud of itself without making reference to other places, and in particular without trying to compare itself to my town, which is a real place where people live real lives and not just a convenient foil for other people's transient big city fantasies.

I spent four years living in a medium-sized city in Connecticut. It was OK. I liked how hard people worked to bring their town back from the edge of post-industrial disaster. I like it when people take pride in their towns.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2019


Ironically, the medium sized city I live in is markedly less diverse than the small town I grew up in.

Pretty sure this is going to happen to the suburbs in a number of expensive urban areas.

Also my thought reading this was - have you considered something in between, like a college town? Not where I live, but where I'm from and it can definitely get you a bit of both worlds. Often expensive, but so is NYC.
posted by atoxyl at 10:29 AM on December 3, 2019


The suburbs are terrible, for most definitions of "suburb."
posted by aspersioncast at 10:52 AM on December 3, 2019


In my 40s I moved back to a small town where I had lived for a few years when I was a teenager.

When I was a teenager I was a freak. I kept my head down. So now when I meet people in town who were here when I was a teen, I rarely know them and they never remember me. But since I was here 30 years ago and can reminisce about the changes, people treat me as a local, not an outsider.

Anyways, it's much better to be a middle aged person here, than it was to be a teenager here. I never get locked in a room full of people born the same year and left to reenact Lord of the Flies. And I wear my freakiness more comfortably. I don't have to fit in with others; if they want confirmity they can conform to ME. Or better yet just get over it, let's all be different.

But most importantly, I have more power here. As a grownup I can influence my environment and work to make the town adapt to me. When I was a kid, I just had to adapt to it.

It was awful to be young here but I am glad to be growing old here.
posted by elizilla at 11:06 AM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


Not a visit back for the holidays passes without me recalling the old Patton Oswalt skit about the test of the small town.

Sorry, but that Oswalt bit really puts me off. The only thing worse than stultifying small-town life and its smug nostalgists is the endless self-congratulation of those who, having been talented enough, brave enough, or just plain lucky enough to have "gotten out", spend the rest of their lives honing their self-identity by shitting on everyone and everything they left behind. It's not nearly as cute, or as cool, as people seem to think it is.
posted by non canadian guy at 11:09 AM on December 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


focus on the place you do really want to live in, and on making that place better and more livable.

Just so! Make it so, and make it just.

Thinking of which, elizilla, do you have leverage to make your town less awful for teens-now?
posted by clew at 11:15 AM on December 3, 2019


Why do you think there are no walkable downtowns, public transit, etc.? (Spoiler: the main answer is racism.)

Well, sure, I'm not saying it's easy. But it's not some iron law of the universe, either, which seems to be how some people treat it. There are certainly good examples of both highly livable, clean, low-crime cities, and highly livable, walkable suburbs / small towns. Many of them outside the United States, granted, but they exist. (And historically, there were quite a few of the latter in the Northeast US before white flight and the post-WWII automobile boom created car-centric suburbs and destroyed public transit.)

I would argue that livable cities and livable small towns tend to be interrelated—some of the most walkable small towns I've ever lived in were actually 'streetcar suburbs' built around high-speed (relative to their day) interurban public transit. IMO, a lot of the hurf-durf "suburbs suck" stuff is specific to a particular implementation of "suburbs" built around the automobile in the postwar period; people typically aren't even considering older, pre-automobile examples. Today a lot of them just get lumped in as "urban" even though they weren't, originally.

Personally, looking at the town where I grew up, the main barrier to development of more amenities isn't racism—which isn't to say that it doesn't exist there, but it's not why there aren't more sidewalks—it's the stubborn unwillingness to pay higher taxes, combined with a general distrust of government's ability to do anything right. It's a near non-starter to get funding for anything except for schools, fire protection, and snow plowing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:34 AM on December 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


My racist-ass hometown has a walkable downtown - almost all of it is walkable, in fact, with sidewalks and everything. It has public transit (there used to be a literal horse-drawn trolley that went up and down Main Street) and cultural events, even an off-broadway theater! Restaurants are nice, not a far drive from a well-respected independent art-house cinema, etc.

Redlining is their weapon of choice.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:47 AM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


I also spent time as a child in a small (eastern) Connecticut town. (I have not been back there since I left as a 10-year-old, but I have relatively fond memories of it...that said, I'm not sure it was even really a town, in that I don't remember anything akin to a main street. Vality supermarket and a small elementary school was about it...but then again, I was 10.)

I think, to my mind, there is a marked difference between growing up in a suburb and growing up in a small town, the difference being one of access. When I was in high school in a Seattle suburb, getting into Seattle was super-easy, just 30 minutes at most in those per-congestion times, whereas I think of being in a small town as possibly feeling like you're trapped, where getting to any sort of Big Place is a day trip or worse, the kind of thing you may not be able to do at all. I imagine that makes life as a teen a much different thing than I experienced, which was different still from being a teen actually in the city.
posted by maxwelton at 12:00 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's a near non-starter to get funding for anything except for schools, fire protection, and snow plowing.

And good luck getting funding for those things too!
posted by delicious-luncheon at 12:44 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


clew, I think I do. I'm mostly interested in our pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, and in planning issues; I go to meetings for that stuff. Walkability is good for kids and adults alike. Don't let the meetings be dominated by "Parking parking parking" or "Property values my backyard waaah" but instead talk about making a built environment that has room for everyone. And when local teens hosted a March For Our Lives meeting, I went to support them and help if they drew some gun nuts (which fortunately they did not).

Other than that I just try to be nice to kids and make the place welcoming for them.

I don't have kids so I have not gotten involved in school politics.
posted by elizilla at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Out here, there are areas where there are folks that are proud as hell that the referendum for school funding got shot down. The district based in my hometown got their expansion voted in by a wide margin but there was only one other school in this half of the state that was successful. Fuck you, I got mine is becoming the standard for too many small town folks (as if those yellow "don't tread on me" flags weren't bad enough).

I'm starting to think my wife's desire to move back to the Twin Cities holds substantial merit.
posted by Ber at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


A little late to this but yes I'm another refugee from a small town in central Ct (really), a town framed on one side by the Connecticut river and a somewhat larger, more populous college town to the south. The nostalgia I occasionally experience has its roots in my experience of what passed for "nature": walks w/ my dog in the second growth forest the random visit from assorted escaped livestock, and an incredibly patient and generous bookstore manager (in that college town). I also picked a lot of shade tobacco. But when I dreamed of escape, it was to New York City. Now I live in the Boston area and never return.
posted by vicusofrecirculation at 4:12 PM on December 3, 2019


Wow I am quite possibly the anti-This Writer. I moved from a childhood spent in several cities outside USA to medium-sized-town suburb in USA. I have a great deal of angst over the fact that I don't live in a city anymore (Jesus Christ what wouldn't I do for public transportation), and yet, at the same time, I have a feeling like I have arrived.

Arrived... at the global center of cultural reference points (omg! Look! My children go to a school with a cafeteria in it! And there is an actual cool kids' table, just like in the movies!!) Arrived... at the place I only ever used to read about in books (whoa! hot dogs and sodas!), experiencing first hand the things that I only ever read about in books (four actual seasons, holy shit, check out this fall!).

I can only imagine this feeling of having Arrived intensifying if (please god "when") I move to NYC. Every street in the city is something I've heard in a song somewhere. Everyone's reference point for every goddamn thing comes from New York, it seems like. That's almost the whole reason I want to pick up my life when I turn 50 and move there. (Almost. Public transportation is also a big deal.)

Anyway, all that is just to say, UNRELATABLE.

she seems to just assume she would be "good" at suburban living and not mired in depression and stern letters from code enforcement.

You know what, that's exactly what her future memoir of moving to suburbia is going to be about! A lot of exclaiming about needing Prozac.
posted by MiraK at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2019




This sounds like an NYC problem more than anything else


Yes, that is the particular city she lives in and is specifically writing about. good ear.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:43 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


I grew up in NYC on the upper west side of Manhattan and I was always nostalgic for a youth I did not have in some vaguely mid-western suburb where it was always fall, crunchy leaves underfoot, a parent who worked at some large corporation in some sort of managementish capacity, a house with a yard with the fallen leaves on it, maybe a deck with one of those egg barbecue things, a commuter train?, a rich autumnal sadness and then summer coming after an unimagined winter, now time to fly a model airplane, to clamber on the vacant roofs of the school out for summer.

From The City, as I always called it without thought or pretense, all I really miss and regret, is the warm humid summer night: the million possible futures, the air that feels like an embrace.
posted by Pembquist at 9:16 PM on December 3, 2019


In 1983, I left my small Eastern Pennsylvania town at age 18 to live in a series of NE and Midwest US cities. While I could never have moved back, the physical landscape of the place feels like home in a way no other place ever did. Everyone I ever cared about deeply is long gone from the town, though.

If there were a way to live in the US without a) some soulsucking tech job or b) worrying about health care costs, I would probably be looking at working with others to set up a coop café in the Rust Belt or Southwest. Certainly not in a metropolis. And a studio apartment or one bedroom would probably be sufficient now that I've been living out of two suitcases for five months.

But I don't entertain notions that going back to PA will answer any questions. Wherever I live I'll essentially be the same person with the same set of problems and quirks.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:51 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I grew up first in an extremely small town as a child (pop 400 ppl, 100% white until a mixed-race family moved there right before I moved away) then moved to a small-ish town right before my teens (pop 30,000 ppl, in Texas it's considered a city). I would absolutely never move back to the bigger one. It was a railroad town and had some industry but now is dying: full of meth, teen pregnancy, high under/unemployment. Essentially if you don't work at the school or the hospital, you either work minimum wage or work in Dallas.

It was close enough to Dallas (100mi away) that a trip to the city wasn't a big deal. I have lived in fairly large cities since I moved away (all 1M+ ppl) and while I love it as a person who needs to work and likes to do things that cities provide, I do want to retire somewhere where I can't even see my neighbor's house. Being surrounded by people constantly for my entire adult life makes me desire to live totally alone.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:59 AM on December 4, 2019


NYC could definitely be...more classically fall-ier. But you can take a boat up the Hudson Valley and have all the leaf-peeping you desire.
posted by praemunire at 9:33 AM on December 4, 2019


I can't really relate to the author's plight, but this article did make me nostalgic for Gilmore Girls.

I love the orderliness of TV Suburbs, but I assume they don't bear that much resemblance to real life? I grew up in an inner-ring suburb, so rowhouses and apartment complexes, kids playing in the street or in parks, buses instead of subways (or SUVs?), 7-Elevens instead of mom-and-pop corner stores, etc. When I read articles like this, it makes me feel like I grew up in the city, but when I was actually growing up, I felt isolated and stifled (same as most kids, I think) and imagined how much easier and more fun living in the actual city would be.

But really, when you are a kid and so have no money on you, you can't get most places unless you can walk to them and you can't go inside most places unless they're public, so it's not like a town or city is your oyster even if you're physically located within it. I grew up down the block from restaurants, stores, theaters, a public pool, etc...but it's not like I could actually GO to them, I was broke! Maybe being a kid sucks everywhere. And then you grow up and realize that it's the being a kid part that was frustrating and not so much the place where you were a kid?
posted by rue72 at 10:01 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Is this something I'd have to be white to get?
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 4:54 PM on December 4, 2019


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