On on of the academic fora I read there is a phrase that describes ‘rural’ communities as ‘fly over country.’ These are the kinds of places you see out of your airplane window on your way between interesting point of origin and interesting destination.
I don’t quite live in ‘fly over country,’ not at least in the summer. For people who don’t live here it’s an ‘interesting destination’ during the summer. And, yes, it’s almost tourist season. I am amazed at the numbers of people who flock here and take in the vistas and bring with them beach volleyball and ‘what happens on vacation, stay’s on vacation’ attitudes. It’s not quite Daytona or crazy, there are too many codgerly old people here to let that happen, but it’s a different place in the summer.
But what is it that they see? Or what is it that they don’t see I suspect is my question?
Before I lived here I often wondered about those little towns that were attached to the services advertised on the highway - the places that host the gas station, restaurant, hotel you need when you’re on a long road trip. You know, those ‘off ramp towns’ in-between where you are and where you’re going. I live in one of those towns now.
It’s beautiful here, if all you’re doing is looking at things. They don’t see what I see. They don’t feel what I feel. How is it that I can feel stifled in this place that they seem to enjoy, indeed love, for the moment that they are here?
I think it’s like the saying goes, it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. And why? It’s likely because living somewhere requires you to know a little bit about what you need in order to feel at home where you live. There are elements of belonging that can’t be accounted for in beautiful vistas and careful gardens.
People need to fit where they find themselves in order to feel at home. This is a more complex process of visual cues to belonging, attached to a feeling of connection, a sense of efficacy in relation to others, and a sense of being heard or taken seriously. I haven’t ever quite felt that here - which makes the sense of fit that much more complicated because I am here because this is where I work, not because this is where I feel at home.
I wonder if they felt what I feel if they would see what I see or would they continue to be caught up in the beautiful vistas?