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Village Person

April 12, 2010
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Back in my younger days, I probably would have told you I was a city person.  It may have been a grass is always greener perspective, but when my family was living in a small Midwestern farming community of less than 3,000 people, I remember longing for the city. 

Being born in the greater Chicago-land area, a love for the Windy City is basically in my blood.  Growing up my home was always a house divided, with the age old question of Cubbies or Sox?  And although I’ve never really cared much about the NFL, I’ve worn my fair share of Navy & Orange in my day- in the Shugarman house we cheer for Da Bears. [actually, we cheer for a lot of teams since my entire family participates in fantasy football each season, but that’s neither here nor there].

Not that living in small-town Wisconsin didn’t have its charms.  I am reminded each day how thankful I am to have attended high school where I did.  I know I was able to participate in a lot of activities and take on roles that I wouldn’t have been able to balance if I was attending a larger high school. Furthermore, there is a quaintness about my hometown that is unparallel to any other place I’ve visited in my short lifetime; filled with wonders such as Suzie the Duck Days, the always popular Alumni Tournaments, Spring Creek, Art in the Park and Lake Wisconsin. 

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I am proud to be from such a close knit community as I am, and although at times in high school an shortly there after I may have cursed that fact that everyone knows everyone and everything about everyone I must admit that it’s not the worst thing.  I knew all 96 of the people I graduated with in 2001, and not just their names.  I had conversations with all of them over the course of our time together – and I’m quiet certain it wouldn’t take much effort for me to be able to come up with memories involving each of my classmates, and many of the people who gradated with in three years either before or after me.

[a good of a time as any to share these old gems from high school:]

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I’ve shared my love for Madison a time or two on the blog. I could go on and on for pages about all the reasons Madison, Wisconsin makes me happy in my heart.  I can get a bit redundant on the awesomeness of the greatest small city in America:

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[and I’m pretty sure in the next 50 days or so you are going to hear a lot about it], but even more so- Madison introduced me to a love I know have for lots of State Capital college town collaborates I’ve visited throughout the years [Austin, St. Paul, Tallahassee, I’m looking at you for starters].

In the past seven years, since leaving Madison, I’ve lived at eight different addresses.  One Louisiana address, five Southeast Texas addresses, and three addresses in New York.  The time spent at each of these living arrangements was special in it’s own right, but where I find myself now, in a little village in the Capital District of New York, makes me question my 12-year old self who thought she was such a City girl. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love Carrie and the girls, and I can quote Friends with the rest of them. I’ve daydreamed sharing a tiny apartment with three pals and riding the subway each day, in and out of boroughs to find the best dive bars to meet friends and markets to purchase flowers for my windowsill each weekend.  I’ve thought about what it would be like to run in Central Park each time I laced my sneakers for outdoor jogs this winter, and I understand the romantic notion of “making it” in NYC. [read: survival].

But I am NOT a “City Girl”.  And this has been made clear to me the last few weeks as I fall more and more in love with my location in my little village. I am a Village Person and I’m not just offering up my suggestion for a Halloween Costume of Awesomeness.

Walking to the grocery market each week to see the specials on local produce never gets old.  Nor do the ever changing bakery selection of homemade pies, pastries, and breads.  I will never turn down a Friday afternoon wine tasting at the family owned liquor store around the corner from my apartment, and the fact that I can meet my friends at the Irish Pub on foot in less than two minutes to have a hearty discussion with the older gentlemen who meet at the bar for a drink and the news several times a week doesn’t hurt either.  Especially on Thursdays when tall Shock Tops are on special for $2.50.

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My next door neighbors share the abundance of their vegetable gardens by placing boxes on lawn chairs near the sidewalk with signs that say, “Take & Enjoy”.  Parades down the main street in town are always heavily attended, along with concerts at the park off a little lake several times a week each summer. On sunny days, you can find children riding bicycles along the sidewalk in large groups to get ice cream from the convenience store and it seems like everyone has a dog they need to walk once the temperature hits 65 degrees.

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Nothing makes me happier than a community full of family owned businesses.  Places to buy gifts for others or treats for yourself. Buildings filled with things you just can’t find everywhere, and signs pointing out the wonders of a place unlike any other.

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Old Fashion movie theater with $4 tickets and a balcony? check.
Gorgeous churches that play beautiful bells on Sunday mornings? check.
A village wide garage sale day each summer? check.
Police men who wave from their cars with genuine smiles? check.

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The cutest little coffee shop with free wifi, super-fresh baked goods that are made right in the store, open mic nights, a take a book leave a book shelf, scrabble/chess tournaments for charity, tasty beverages, a pet fish named Darth Beta, and a showcase of local photographers, painters, musicians and comedians. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

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Last but not least, the wonderful little Scotia Dinner which allowed me to cross off another item from my 101 in 1001 list.  [leave a $20 tip on a meal less than $20 in cost]

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What do you love about where you live?

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2010 11:40 am

    I’m obviously not a huge fan of where I live. It works for now and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’m getting, but I don’t want to stay here forever. That being said, I did realize the other day just how unique it is around here. No other place has the same blend of Cajun-blooded swamp-dwellers and roughnecked Texan individualism.

  2. April 12, 2010 2:48 pm

    I LOVE WHERE I LIVE!!

    Come live here with me!! PUHHHH-LEASSSE?
    First off, this may make me an old woman, but I love that the economy is stable in my area – especially the real estate. (Thats the only thing I’ve learned working for a real estate investor. Booo.)

    I love that my family is here. I love that we have all 4 seasons. I love that we have insane sports fans.

    I’d love it more if you’d come live here!!

  3. April 12, 2010 3:06 pm

    I’m not a big fan of where I live. I mean, I’ve lived here all my life so I am attatched to it but the place isn’t very pleasant at all. I’ve always said I was a city girl but lately… I’ve been craving all of those things you’ve described in this post. Actually, that place sounds freaking amazing. Lucky you. 🙂

  4. April 12, 2010 3:31 pm

    I love love love these photos! What an adorable place to live. I guess since I’ve lived in NYC for 10 years now I’m officially a city person. 😉 I’d love to move somewhere like CO or CA, but I know it would be a huge adjustment after living here.

  5. April 12, 2010 4:37 pm

    What a great post! Gotta love small town Wisconsin, I sure do!! Your village looks WONDERFUL! How fun!

  6. April 12, 2010 7:41 pm

    Definitely more of a village/small city person. Like Madison. Or, even smaller, Ithaca.

    You’re right, when you come visit me in Ithaca you will probably want to stay. And I will encourage that 🙂

  7. abbynormally permalink
    April 12, 2010 9:44 pm

    AHH I love that you left a $20 tip! I sooo want to do that some time!! You are wonderful..

    I love just about everything about Pittsburgh. I love that it’s small, and real..no pretentious people, just blue collored workers. I love the bridges and the awesome schools… I love the stinky rivers and history… I just love it because it’s home!

  8. April 12, 2010 9:45 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with where I live. I love the neighborhood that I live in because of all the things you mentioned…locally owned shops, family run restaurants, coffee shops in walking distance, kids drawing in chalk on the sidewalks, the ice cream man and then city life only a matter of a few miles away. I hate where I live because I am NOT a fan of the weather ( I cannot stand the cold) I despise the trash, the “thugs” that walk around with their pants belted below their butt cheeks (WHAT IS THAT??) and the fact that so many people are just so unfriendly.

    I definitely think I am a “village” person, but seeing as I have a child imbedded in her school and her friends it’s looking more and more like St Louis will be the place I call home for years to come…and I swore when I moved away at 15 that I would never come back. Boy how life can throw you a curve ball… =)

  9. April 12, 2010 10:26 pm

    Man, your village is really adorable. A little nostalgic even as parts of it remind me of where I grew up and its surrounding areas.

    But I’m not going to move there. Sorry man.

    I see two of my fellow Burghers have already commented on why they love our fair City. I’d like to add that what I love about it is it’s where I’ve done a lot of growing. I spent my college years here and sometimes it amazes – OK and shocks the hell out of – me when I think back to that naive girl who bawled for the entire two-hour car ride here when I moved into my dorm. I accomplished wonderful things here and partied my ass off, then I decided to leave for another year and a half where I did more growing. The Pittsburgh I returned to felt familiar and like home – much like what your village is becoming to you. There’s not as much uncharted territory but rather the comfort of knowing what to expect. I have to believe that at this point in my life – my ever “growing” – that’s exactly what I need.

  10. Care Bear permalink
    April 12, 2010 10:56 pm

    Love Love Love the HS pictures! I especially like the one where we are in the boys football gear…..oh friday night football:) thanks for the memories and the smiles they bring. It truly is one of those things you don’t appreciate at the time but looking back we were very fortunate to “grow up” where we did!

    I love where I live now in San Diego because I am steps to the pacific ocean, I have a job that I enjoy and appreciate, I have a close-knit “framily” here, and there is always something to do. This big city has also made me realize all of the things I took for granted at home in wisco…..taking the backroads, home-cooked meals, beer tents….and of course my family and friends:)

  11. April 13, 2010 9:19 pm

    I want to live there! I love American towns and that just screams perfection to me!

    I live in Perth, Western Australia and the thing I like most about it is that its quiet and relaxed, and while to the rest of Australia we are known as WA – Wait Awhile because of our non existant late trading hours (plus we are the most isolated city in the world!), it is a beautiful place, all my family is here and I reckon it’s a pretty good place to be.

    I’ve just found your blog so I’m looking forward to reading through it, I’ve enjoyed the few posts I’ve read so far!

  12. April 14, 2010 7:15 am

    I’m going to think about this more today, but one thing I love about Louisiana is that when it’s time for celebration, we do it right. Whether it’s Christmas or Mardi Gras or the Saints winning the Superbowl or Labor Day, Louisiana people know how to enjoy it.

    As far as Alexandria/Pineville, specifically, that’ll take a little more thought, but I’ll let you know. 🙂

  13. April 15, 2010 1:12 pm

    I love where I live. I love the small town feel of my neighborhood, while still being only a few miles from downtown St. Paul & Minneapolis. I love that my neighborhood has book clubs, a Christmas party for the ladies, and a lovely little ice cream stand. I love that there’s a lake to walk around with Baby A while I’m home the next few months, and that we can walk to the zoo too!

  14. July 27, 2010 3:29 pm

    I loved this post Heather!! Even though I get bored with where I live sometimes, it has its charms. Your post actually makes me proud to be from a smallish town in upstate NY. 🙂

  15. August 24, 2010 7:40 pm

    Aw I love this! I actually worked in Schenectady right after college so I know Scotia fairly well. 🙂 I love calling CNY home for a few reasons… 1. it doesn’t get much snowier, 2. Wegmans, 3. Syracuse basketball!!

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