Monday, March 5, 2012

Small Town Precedents

"Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child."—Vladimir Nabakov Lolita

As some might have gleaned from the somewhat sardonic tone I've taken in previous posts, and the equally sardonic attitude I seem to have toward my temporary hometown, I'm at the point in my life where I'm itching to put small-town living on hiatus for a little while and try my hand at a slightly more urban existence. It's not that I have any great aversion to small towns; it's just that I always seem to find myself in one.

I grew up in Medway, Massachusetts, a town too far from Boston to really be considered a suburb. It aesthetic terms, it was a pleasing enough childhood, although it certainly had it's darker undertones—one of our neighbours (or should I say "neighbors") tried to kill his wife and kids, but wound up burning his face off. Beyond this, I recall an air of surreptitiousness seemed to pervade—but if I give too much away here there won't be any impetus to buy my memoir. Please enjoy this promotional video of my hometown, directed by David Lynch:

After Medway, my next small-town experience was in Lennoxville, PQ, where I completed my undergraduate degree. Next to Lennoxville, Medway we a veritable booming metropolis. Beyond the university, Lennoxville didn't have a tremendous lot going for it. I spent most of the time drinking cheap wine in friends apartment and deliberating in the Tim Hortons line as to whether or not I should order mon moyen café in tried, tested, true English, or mysterious French—a beautiful language that can barely distinguish between a house and a home. This video tour will give you some idea of what it was like (although I don't personally recall things looking quite so bleak.)


  1. I have never had the desire to live in a big city. They're nice to visit but definitely not somewhere I could imagine myself living.

  2. I can definitely relate to this post, I'm from a small town too! Moving to St. Catharines was quite the big deal for me, but now I think I'm itching for another bigger and more urban adventure as well. Maybe one day we'll complete our goals and cross paths in the big city haha

  3. I've lived in both a small town (Niagara-on-the-Lake), a medium city (St. Catharines), and a big city (London, ON and Tampa Bay, FL). They all have their advantages and disadvantages.
    What I like about the bigger cities is that everything you need is there, and relatively easy to find. Also, lots of entertainment and culture comes to big cities, such as concerts, sports teams, and theater.

    And yet, small towns have a sense of community, as opposed to anonymity. There is also the sense of peace and quiet there, where sounds of traffic and industry fade, as well as the city lights. It's always interesting to see the glow of a city at night, and the lack-of-glow from a town.

    I feel as though as long as you have an open mind and are willing to adapt, you can live in either a big city or a small town. So, the only thing I could ever say to someone who refuses to live in one particular-sized area, I would say "try it first!"

    1. I agree. I think a city is a nice place to be young in, while you're young—good to network, meet people, experience things. I'd imagine I'd eventually wind up someplace a little quieter.

  4. Thanks Jim. I desperately need to move from my small town to a big city to save my sanity, at least for a little while. Being young in a city is definitely something that needs to be done. Perhaps it will make me appreciate a small town later in life.

  5. It's neat learning about where you grew up. I've lived in the same house in St. Catharines for my entire life, so I can't wait to experience the big city life. But like you said, when I eventually settle down it will probably be in a smaller city.

  6. Bless you for living in so many small towns, it is just not my style. I grew up in suburbia, which was fine when I was younger, but after having a year in Dublin I am itching to get back to a big city.

  7. Your "parcours" is interesting, Jim. I like living in a small town. I feel safe there and there are so many benefits having your "domicile" in a small town. But it is important to have a "residence" in a big city for the reasons Alex gave. Now, you get the difference between "house" and "home" in French?