As of about a month ago, it looks like Liz from Am I Thirty Yet was having just a little bit of culture shock moving from New York City to somewhere upstate.
Since I grew up in a little town upstate — I’m guessing fairly close to where she is now, although I don’t know where, since she refers to the Catskills — I found the post to be both funny and a little thought-provoking about the things you find normal but others find unusual.
For example, it wasn’t something I gave much thought to, and fortunately had little no experience with, but growing up, all I knew was volunteer firefighters, including several of my relatives.
But what are some of the things I’ve found different over the years, even little things, in the larger places I’ve lived in or gone since then?
It’s right there on the corner — As a kid, “the city” wasn’t New York (that came much later), but Albany and Schenectady.
And until my brother and I were old enough to stay home alone, we’d have to go with my parents to the city when they went grocery shopping. It was dreadfully boring until I discovered they usually wouldn’t give me a hard time if I planted myself in front of the magazine rack.
But every now and then, we convinced my parents to do something special …
… go to Friendly’s.
Then, when I went to college in Utica, there was a Friendly’s right on the corner of the street. You could practically see it from the dorms. There was a convenience store, too; I walked there pretty much all day.
And don’t get me started on Domino’s delivering $6 pizzas until 1 a.m.
Late starts — Growing up, a few nights a week we’d go visit family or friends who lived nearby. Sometimes we’d call, and sometimes we’d just drop in, but either way, if we weren’t going somewhere by 8 p.m., we usually weren’t going anywhere.
College didn’t work that way. People started to think about thinking about doing something at around 9 or so.
I once made plans to meet friends at a bar night that started at 8 or 8:30 or whatever. We didn’t set a time, but being the punctual sort, I got there right around the time it started, and wound up sitting in the bar pretty much by myself.
My friends first had to watch … I think it was “90210” … and then of course they had to get ready.
Never made that mistake again.
Nowadays, it’s a big deal if Suzi and I are out past 10, so I guess it all circles back around.
One person, one vote, many machines — One year — I’m guessing college freshman year of 1990 or sophomore year the next year, but maybe it was later — I went home to vote.
As we waited in line in the town offices, my father told me that my hometown had finally gotten big enough to need another voting machine, bringing the grand total to … two. (He also stressed that the machine the town bought was used.)
Since then, I’ve had to either make sure I went to the right building to vote, or at least gotten in the right line for my district in whatever school or ice rink I’ve voted in.
Plus we used to go to the pancake supper either before or after voting, and I miss that.
Sticker shock — Suzi and I moved in together in the fall of 2001 — a two-bedroom, second-floor place in Colonie, a suburb north of Albany.
Our apartment complex was behind a subdivision, so we often took walks up the street and around the cul de sacs. There was a house under construction that we used to pass, and it looked like it was going to be really nice, so we were curious about how much it was going to sell for when it was done.
Suzi found the real estate listing and saw the asking price was in the range of $160,000 to $165,000, which seemed like all the money in the world at the time. After all, we watched local real estate shows, and you could get what looked like nice houses in the nicer suburbs for $85,000 to $90,000.
If we only knew …
It’s just a beach — The places I had lived before moving to Cape Cod in 2003 were … just regular places.
A small town, a couple small to medium-size cities, a suburb. I enjoyed all of them in their own ways, but off the top of my head, I can’t really come up with anything outstanding about them that sets them apart from anyplace else.
Not so for Cape Cod.
The coast, the waters, the beaches are all big business, but they also provide an identity and a belief among many residents that they lived in a Very Important and Special Place (which of course made them Very Important and Special People).
I love beaches. Beaches are awesome, but at the end of the day, they’re just the places where the megacontinent pulled apart and water filled in the gap.
Or something like that. I sucked in my college oceanography class.
Everything about New York City — Enough time has passed and I’ve been there enough that I’m probably through my “country mouse in the big city” phase, but it will always fill me with wonder.