It's been just over a year since I moved to New City, which I suppose really needs a new name but isn't going to get one in this particular post. And you know, I'm surprised by how very much I like it here: it's a decent-sized, post-industrial city with some economic woes but a great arts scene, quite a few colleges and universities, and lovely architecture and housing stock. It reminds me in some ways of Alma Mater City, in some ways of Northwest City, but in other ways of nowhere I've ever lived or visited.
When describing it to friends, I say, "you know: it's a blue city in a red county in a blue state." Or I use the description on my sidebar ("land of trade unions, mandolin repair shops, and pickup trucks"). I like that balance. I like the fact that most people here are social and economic liberals, even if they don't necessarily use those terms, instead viewing themselves as entirely sensible and traditional and family- and community-minded.
Nothing, I think, demonstrates that better than the Catholic church I attend. It's an old church, and this is a very Catholic region of the country, and some parishoners have obviously been attending for the better part of their lives. But in the parking lot, on a regular basis, I've seen a car with the bumper sticker, "If the Church doesn't want to ordain women, it should stop baptizing them!" And last Sunday, also in the parking lot, I passed a group of middle-aged women just getting ready to go in to mass; they were trim, overly tanned, with ankle bracelets and fake nails and the distinctive accent of the region. One was exclaiming to the others, "We just saw the Michael Moore, whasis, Sicko, this weekend? Oh my God, you have to see it! It's so good!"
I guess that that's what I like most about this area: it doesn't conform to liberal/conservative expectations, and it seems free of the educational and cultural elitism of some of the places I've lived (and which has always made me uncomfortable) without being at all anti-intellectual.
Of course, it wouldn't be such a great city if I hadn't already made some friends here, but I've been lucky enough to have done so and to be meeting more cool people through them.
If location were the only consideration, I could contemplate staying here for the rest of my life--or certainly the next decade of it. Will I? Probably not. But I could.