Anywhere I roam, where I lay my head is home. Growing up in a military family I could always relate to these words from a song by Metallica, a popular heavy metal rock band of the 1980’s. My father spent 18 years enlisted in the Navy, which required us to move our “home” several times. Most of my life growing up was spent in a city. Two of the largest cities I lived in after moving out of my parents’ house were Raleigh, NC, and just north of Detroit, MI. Now I’m settled in a very rural part of the United States û the complete opposite from what I had grown accustomed to. This caused a great feeling of culture-shock for about a week until I got used to my surroundings and how things work. Of my experiences so far, I believe that rural Vermont is probably one of the best places on earth to live.
There are very few similarities between living in a city and living in a rural community. Both have stores including a local grocery store, gas station, bank, restaurant, and other businesses essential to one’s everyday living. Another similarity is that they each have schools and community events including local celebrations of various holidays such as a parade for Independence Day. One thing I’ve noticed to stand-out among all similarities between city and rural living is that no matter where I am I’ve always been able to find a friend. Among these very few similarities between city and rural living are a lot of differences.
One of the main differences I’ve noticed between living in a city versus living in a rural area is the sense of “community” one has with their neighbors. In the small rural town I live in now, I feel as though just about everybody knows everybody else, or has at least run into them at one time or another. I believe that living in a small town allows for a stronger bond with the people who live in that town. When you see a person on a regularly frequent basis, friendships are created, and the bond of “community” begins to develop. This bond of “community” gives one the feeling that should a problem arise, there are people who care enough and who are willing to help if they are able. I didn’t get this kind of feeling when I lived in a city. Because there are more people in a large city, you’re not as likely to see the same person on a regular basis, and thus the friendships are not as likely to occur. Amanda Benoit described it perfectly when she said a city is like “a sea of unfamiliar faces.” In the cities I have lived in, most of the time people would keep to themselves and didn’t engage in friendly conversation very often unless they happened to know the person from work or through family. I found it very shocking that everybody seemed so friendly when I first moved to Vermont because everybody wanted to say “hello” and get to know me.
Another difference between city living and rural living is the distance required to travel between places. While living in Vermont, I’ve discovered that most rural towns are fairly distant from any major shopping malls, movie theatres, and similar types of businesses, with the exception of the local stores I mentioned above. I will never forget my first night in Vermont. I made friends immediately and was invited to see a movie. The drive to the theatre took around 45 minutes. Most movie theatres I had been to in the cities were maybe 15 minutes away or less. Not only are the theatres much farther than I was used to, but it took me a while to find out where the “local” fast-food joints were. While I was used to taking maybe 20 minutes round-trip to the nearest fast-food place in a city, it turned out that “local” in rural Vermont meant traveling about 30-45 minutes one-way. It is not uncommon to see several fast food places as well as convenience stores all lined-up in a row on the same street in a city. My mother often says that she couldn’t live where there isn’t a 7-11 on every corner. These were just additional pieces of culture-shock that I had to get used to.
Lastly, one of the most noticeable differences between living in a city and living in a rural area is the beauty of nature itself. Living in a rural area allows me to really see a lot more of nature than I had ever imagined possible. I’d heard of “the mountains” and of great “forests” but I’d never really been to an area that had such a respect for the environment as Vermont. I’ve often caught myself staring out a window looking at the beauty of nature, whether it’s watching the river behind my apartment or the birds on my porch; most of the time I’ll just stare at the mountains in awe. When I lived just north of Detroit, MI, all I could see were what I called “cookie-cutter” houses; rows and rows of houses that looked exactly the same with the exception of whether the driveway was on the left or right side of the building. The horizon seemed completely flat and you could see for miles and miles the blank canvas of clouds. I thought this was rather boring. In Raleigh, NC, there were a lot of tall buildings, especially when heading towards the downtown area. This cluttered the horizon with many man-made structures and did not allow me to witness much of nature at all.
While growing up in a city environment did have a few advantages, I don’t believe there is any other place on earth I’d rather be than the Green Mountains of Vermont. The feeling of “community” is comforting and I’ve always loved making new friends. I don’t mind traveling long distances to get from place to place because it allows me to witness the beauty of nature that has such a strong presence in Vermont. I highly recommend to everybody that they take a moment of their busy day, no matter where they live, to “stop and smell the flowers.” Take a moment to witness Mother Nature and what she has to offer, you may be surprised at what you find.