Anyone who's talked to me in the last couple of years (well, ever, really) knows that I'm not particularly fond of the part of the country that I live in. I don't care for my city, as nice as it is, and I don't care for my state. It's not that I can't see the appeal- I can, to a degree. Unfortunately, all of those things that appeal to the people who live in this area of the country mean almost nothing to me. I don't have kids to raise, so being in a bigger city with a small town feel doesn't do much for me. I don't think the level of education in our area is particularly high, though I will say that its better than some of the bigger cities in our state. There's plenty of green space and lakes to enjoy. Unfortunately, the political climate of our region makes it so that a lot of that is closed off to me and Kitten unless we want to spend a whole day acting like acquaintances. I don't.
At any rate, I feel like I've made it really clear that I'm not fond of here and that there are other places (namely, Portland Oregon) that I would rather be. That said, this last week Kitten and I were finally able to go into our favorite local breakfast joint and have a bite to eat. It was then that we realized that there were, indeed, things that we would miss about my hometown.
I will, certainly, miss that breakfast place. Part of it is the closeness. I feel like I'm at home. The staff feels like family. Hey- we had only been away a couple of months (one of them on vacation) and some of the kitchen staff came out to give us hugs. Seriously. I am friends with them on Facebook and it feels like I'm in my grandfather's kitchen when I'm there. Not so much the look, but the atmosphere and the taste. They make pancakes I swear could be my grandfathers...it's about the only place I'll eat them short of at home. The food is good and home made. The staff are wonderful people. It's cozy in a crammed, warm, comfortable kind of way. When we move, I'll have to spend months, maybe years, looking for another place like that.
I'll miss the convenience culture of my town, whether I want to admit it or not. Do I want to live in a town that encourages local business, local food markets and healthy living? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean I won't miss Walmart. I know, I know, there's plenty of Walmart haters out there and I understand it. I do. But let me tell you something- if my coffee pot breaks any time day or night I know there are a minimum of seven different places I can get a high quality, programmable, grinds yours beans, steams your milk and sings you good morning coffee pot. Minimum. See, in my town, we have six Walmart Supercenters, eight or nine (I've lost count) Neighborhood markets, Three Big K-Marts, A Super Target, and somewhere in the neighborhood of ten big market national chain superstores. We have six or seven Walgreens and three CVS pharmacies. I choose which store I shop at based on which one's layout I like best. I have five major grocery stores within three miles of my home. That's convenient.
I wonder how I will cope in a city where there isn't a grocery on every corner. I don't know how I'll feel when I have to drive to get to a big box store. Hell, maybe I'll start shopping online. I mean, I knew someone who moved out there and actually had to ask their friends on Facebook where to get a toaster because there wasn't a Walmart within easy driving distance. How will I feel when I can't get to a McDonald's within 5 minutes of wherever I am in town? Thinner, probably, but that won't help my french fry craving. We'll see...but I think I'll miss it a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I think the perks outweigh the disadvantages, but it will be a big change.
Speaking of which, I'll have to adjust my eating habits. Specifically when it comes to "Chinese" food. Now, we all know there's nothing Chinese about the stuff we order at The Great Wall of Chicken (or wherever you like to go- pick one, our city has probably close to fifty) but its not going to be the same when we move. We're going to want Chinese and what we're really going to want is a local delicacy called "cashew chicken" and I was raised on the stuff. Let me tell you, no one on the planet makes it the way we do here...and I'll miss eating it. We keep swearing we're going to perfect our own recipes...but I will get to craving my old favorite places and I'm pretty sure my visits home will be packed full of cartons full of Shanghai Dynasty's (or wherever's) food.
More than that- there's food everywhere here. Seriously, if you drop someone anywhere in my city with $20 they can walk to a restaurant and be eating in less than ten minutes. Take the picture below. From the corner where that picture was taken, I know off the top of my head there is a McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Rib Crib, two other local BBQ places, a Chinese place (Kitten's favorite one, actually), a McCallister's Deli, and a Long John Silver's within visual radius. There is also a liquor store, a grocery store, and a whole foods type market. There's even two restaurants inside the building, one of them an upscale casual type place...I'm going to miss food, en masse, everywhere I look. Hey- I never said I wasn't a glutton.
I'm also going to miss Bass Pro Outdoor World.
I like to go there for camping gear. They carry quality hiking boots and some really nice clothes. My favorite pair of hiking pants came from there. If we're ever bored, its a great place to go and daydream. Why yes, I am a lesbian stereotype sometimes- its nice to think about the tents, subzero rated sleeping bags, utility knives, waterproof boots, etc, etc, that I would like to own. This is a great place for it. In the winter it's nice to head over to the little food area they have and grab a mug of coffee or cider and then settle down in front of the giant fireplace and rest. Those split wood rocking chairs are comfortable. As many great stores as they have up north, there won't be a Bass Pro in Portland.
I'm also going to miss the flea markets and thrift stores. I'm not saying that there won't be great ones there...but I have my favorites here. For some reason I think Bobcat and I are going to end up reminiscing about the days when we could find an English Walnut sideboard from the mid-1800's for less than three grand. I do. Because I know that's not normal. It will take some adjusting. And speaking of the things used and abused- I'll miss my favorite local used book dealer, where all the girls know me and ask about my writing and what I've been up to. The ones that chorus with me (when the new kid foolishly asks if I have trade credit) "She never brings them back." I say it every time. These are the girls who will laugh when I reach into my coat for the fistful of quarters I know is there and come up with a fistful of Starburst candies- and then gleefully take one when I offer the fistful to them. They know I'm cool. I'm going to miss that. Even if there is Powell's City of Books.
I can't think of many things I'll be sorry to leave behind....but those things...yeah. I might just miss them every now and again. I guess in a few years we'll see. Won't we?