COLUMN — Daniela Ginta writes Fridays for The Armchair Mayor News.
We spent Easter weekend in Seattle with our extended family. We drove through the Okanagan, camped in Osoyoos waking up to a perfect mirror of a lake, drove alongside blooming orchards and passed through small towns that look like accent pillows thrown around.
We stopped for ice cream, we stopped by antique shops, talked to people who have been collecting signs of the past since they can remember, and we stopped here and there by the side of the road just because.
We stayed in a suburb of Seattle, but went to visit the city one day.
It was dazzling. Wide ribbons of highways, some on the ground, some in the air, all tied up in knots you get to untangle once you live there long enough, peppered with cars of all sizes rushing this way and that. Did I say dazzling?
We visited the farmer’s market and walked around downtown just until the boys begged to go home. Rivers of cars streaming in the streets, bumping shoulders with countless people at the market and being parked on the K level of a A to P parking lot proved too spicy a dish for us all.
Seattle is a big city, we knew that of course. We know of big cities from living in Vancouver until two years ago.
I want to believe that every city, no matter how big, has pockets of neighborhood that create the small town feel (maybe?) because deep down everyone connects that way with the place they’re in. Yet even with that hope in mind, the thought of suddenly being thrown into a city that size and having to live there a while made me feel uneasy.
Perhaps I’ve become a bit spoiled by the comforting lull, still vibrant but on a different scale, of life in Kamloops.
And for good reasons.
Most times I walk to downtown I am bound to run into someone I know. I may not know them but we know of each other.
Farmer’s market season will start soon and I will see many familiar faces I’ll keep on seeing all summer. We will talk to people the way we always have and get to know more than the price of goodies they sell. As one should.
We often forgo our cowboy-coffee-on-sun-splashed-porch ritual and opt for a coffee shop in town and it is always a treat. In most coffee shops we visit, I know we will see familiar faces; owners, baristas and customers.
We know of their life, they know of ours. We talk, catch up on the latest and say ‘see you later’ knowing we’re not saying it because how else can you end a conversation.
We will see them later because the place we live in is small enough that neither of us will go unseen.
There’s comfort in it.
There’s a mesh of good warm feelings that grows around you when you get to know the place you’re in and the place is small enough for you to be more than a rushed pair of legs or two sets of wheels, respectively.
And just like that, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to live in a big city either. As they say, to each their own. In the end, it’s about coming to know where you feel most at home and why.
I’ve lived in many big cities since leaving my hometown, similar in size and appearance to Kamloops, at the age of 18. It was fascinating at times, it was frustrating too, it was exciting and then it was tiring.
The rushed rhythm of the big city was, more or less, in sync with my own rushed lifestyle (which was rushed because I was in a big city, some could argue.) Following life’s fluid ways I got to visit smaller communities and knew right away that I’ll never return to the big city.
It takes going places to realize where you want to be the most and it takes going to places loud enough to barely hear your thoughts to actually hear them loud enough.
Last but not least, gratefulness to realize that you’re in a good place. Imperfect at times, but real is like that. Charming too.