The Flip-Side of Upstate NY Small Town Life

  |  September 4, 2014
snow storm pool

It’s a trap we’ve fallen into, even though we know better: The fantasy of living in an Upstate Small Town. By fantasy, we mean the glossing over of the realities of small town living in favor of the romantic version filled with long walks amongst the trees and sipping coffee on our deck at sunrise while deer frolic in the near-distance. But the truth is, small town living can be isolating and lonely, especially if you’re not used to the pace. Reyhan Harmanci wrote about her experiences trying to eek out a life in the city of Hudson full-time in her piece Giving Up My Small-Town Fantasy for the NYT Opinionator blog. Although she and her husband found work and an affordable house two hours north of Manhattan, they still struggled to plant roots and feel like a part of the community. And then, winter rolled in. She writes:

“For the first time since college, I became depressed. Listless, I spent long hours lying in bed. Taking showers for warmth seemed like a legitimate hobby. Walking in the snow to and from the office was the only time I was outdoors and also the only time that I was alone. And when I walked, I walked in the middle of the street. There were rarely any cars with which to share the road. It felt like living in a snow globe.”

We hear ya, sister. We hear ya loud and clear.

Harmanci and her husband eventually moved back downstate and became Hudson weekenders, not unlike the thousands of other Hudson weekenders, “the kind who keep the stores buzzing in the summer but shuttered in the winter,” Harmanci said.

As transplants ourselves (not from NYC, but other parts of the country), it took us a few years to feel like we belonged in our upstate NY community. And it takes work. You have to reach out, attend community functions, show up to vote in elections, eat at the local diners, go to the yard sales. Having kids helps since the daily drop off and pick up at school becomes an opportunity to rub elbows with your neighbors. Nonetheless, if you don’t have the time or are the introverted type who struggles to make friends, full-time small town living might not be your best bet. And then the winter will come, and if you didn’t feel lonely before, the snow globe existence will drive it home like nothing else.

About Kandy Harris

Kandy is a writer and musician/music teacher living in Saugerties, NY.

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