In my hometown, you hear high school students say they’re going to “move to the big city” after graduation.
Eventually we get here. Then what?
If you’re like me, you take a map with you wherever you go, and carry a GPS in your car.
I’m from Pine Falls, Manitoba. If you don’t know where that is, neither does anyone who lives outside out of it. When I tell people where I’m from, I get a lot of “Pine Falls? Where’s that? It sounds like a kids story.”
My response is almost scripted:
We don’t have stoplights, a Tim Hortons, or an IKEA. But there’s something special about a small town that a big city can’t build.
Everybody knows everybody, and their first cousin seventeen times removed. My family always looks out the living room window to see who’s walking by. Rush hour traffic consists of a lineup at the car wash. We stop our accountant, babysitter, and local dentist on the street just to say hello. And every couple needs to check their family tree before they can date.
Moving to Winnipeg was a big eye opener, especially for a kid from the country. I got on the wrong bus-every day for two weeks. I couldn’t get through a full bus ride without calling a friend to either pick me up, or confirm I was going the right way. I got the hang of it until just the other day. I managed to get off at the wrong bus stop, and had to ask for directions to get home. It was the next street over.
A couple of weeks ago, I also got lost while driving. I called my friend in Vancouver to Google Map my location. Today as I was walking to my bus stop, a man also asked me if I was lost and needed help getting home.
I’ve learned that city folk don’t say good morning to every pedestrian downtown. They don’t wave to each car in rush hour traffic. And they have no idea who walks past their living room window.
I’ve lived in “the big city” for three months. I still find crosswalks confusing. I have no idea what northbound means. I always forget to lock my door. I don’t understand why you have to pay for parking downtown. And my mom calls everyday- twice a day. She warns me to avoid talking to strangers.
Hopefully one day I’ll learn how this whole city thing works. Until then, I’ll keep my map close, and my GPS closer.