I am a country girl, through and through. My fondest memories are among trees and streams. I like baked potatoes loaded with cheese and bacon, and I drink water from the tap. Don’t judge – I grew up with a well. I’m used to dark skies and clean air and inexpensive diners and quiet.
This was something I struggled with quite a lot when we moved to Waltham in 2014. Waltham is a stone’s throw from Boston, and it’s a great city with a mix of the buzzing traffic and carefree city ways, and the quaintness of locally owned businesses and everybody seeming to know everybody. But despite all that, it is a city. At 63,000, there’s about three times as many people in this city than in my home town… over just about the same amount of physical space. Outside of the discomfort of the noise and the crowded streets, and how much more expensive it became to go out to eat, there was something else I quickly realized:
City people and country people are just fundamentally different.
This isn’t a good or a bad thing, and neither is right or wrong. It’s simply true. Country folk see city folk as snobby and selfish. City folk see country folk as simple and uncivilized. I wish I could say here in the 21st century this wasn’t true, but it has been true in my experience.
I struggled living in the city, although many “country people” convert. I still work here, and day-to-day I still struggle to match my peers in fashion, etiquette, and for goodness gracious – trying not to get killed on the highway. Things are different. But they are not better or worse.
I find it interesting how cities become their own cultural epicenters, and while I am grateful for the vivacity of Boston, I also love my own small town and feel more like I “fit in” there. They each have their beauty, charm, and fortitude. And they’re very different.
For example, dressing up in my town is perfectly sufficient to be a nice, simple dress and heels. In Boston, folk go to the nines, because the events are far grander.
At home, I’m comfortable in jeans, a graphic tee, and combat boots. In Boston, you need to have more fashion and flair. Skinny jeans or leggings and flats at least, and don’t even get me started about finding the right cut of top. The fashion shifts a little every few weeks.
At home, I can order steak and potatoes and bring home leftovers. In Boston, your dinner is exquisitely plated and significantly more expensive. No leftovers.
At home, everyone has a car. Quite a few people have two. In Boston, you get an Uber or take the T. Believe me, you don’t want to pay to park your car in the city. You don’t want to drive in the city.
These things are just slight adaptations to living in a world with more people, where you have to do twice as much to impress, and try twice as hard not to fall apart. They are both fine, and both places have become a part of my life.
Still, I’m perfectly happy being, at heart, a country girl.