Well, I’ve been living in Vermont for three weeks now and while I feel nowhere near settled, or settled in, there have been some definite (positive) changes to my way of life that I wasn’t expecting to be such a big deal. I feel like once Fran starts working (rumor has it that he starts a new gig in November but he’s not quite Facebook-ready to announce it until his first day, so you didn’t hear it from me) and I get into a routine with the boys and get Roman into daycare, that’s when I’ll be able to share with you what it’s like to make a pretty big move – culturally, physically and emotionally.
I mean, we still have boxes to unpack. We also have a storage space in the building, so there is a distinct possibility some of those boxes are just going to get transported downstairs when I get sick of telling myself I will go through them. So it still kind of feels like we’re still finding our way and our space.
I am planning on writing more about what this move has been like – it’s a big change for a New Yorker of 15 years to adjust to a new lifestyle – but in the meantime, here’s a list of 20 Ways Living in Vermont is Totally Different from Living in NYC.
1. I’m sorry, but the pizza is NOT the same. So many people told us, oh the pizza is great, you need to go to (business name redacted because they’re just up the road from us and so nice). Well, we went there and the pizza is NOT great. We have had good pizza one time at a friend’s house, and that was fancy, wood-fired stuff. NYC-style pizza is not the same here. (Yes, I led this list with pizza. Yes, this is a fitness/running blog. I am not sorry.)
2. People are really nice here. It still freaks me out a little bit and I am trying to be less paranoid, but seriously, people are very friendly here. (What do they WANT??)
3. The air is AMAZING. I noticed this the first day we woke up after a looooong, long, long moving day. It smells fresh. It smells clean. There’s no trash/urine/feces/body odor/traffic smell in the back of my nose. It’s crazy and I find myself taking deep, gulping breaths of the stuff because I’m afraid it’s going to go away.
4. Cars stop at pedestrian crossing areas even when you’re about 12 feet away from the crossing and are vaguely turning in the direction of the crossing. They just stop. And then they wait. And if you’re actually not crossing, or you’re waiting for your three-year-old to stop pretending to use the parking meter on the corner, you just give a little wave and then they move on with their own little wave and smile. It FREAKS ME OUT. I feel so guilty for crossing the road. I keep waiting for the horns and the yelling.
5. When you go the DMV with your husband and kids and you’re woefully unprepared (like your husband thinks he can hand over his NY license and get a VT license no questions asked and you have an expired Australian license but neither of you have filled out paperwork) the person at the reception desk will be pleasant and sweet and joke with you and give you all the forms you need and make sure you know exactly what you need to do next to get your licenses in order.
6. While all of the above niceties are occurring at the DMV, the people behind you will be smiling and telling you your kids are cute and looking confused if you apologize for being total unprepared idiots.
7. Customer service is a thing here. As in, the people who work in stores and businesses actually want to serve their customers. I went to Rite Aid and my cashier spent 5 minutes showing me how to use my Plenti points. Then, when it wouldn’t work on his register, he tried on another one, before looking up the 800 number for Plenti so I could make sure my account was set up correctly. (I once asked a cashier at a Brooklyn Rite Aid what Plenti points were and she looked at me blankly and grunted.)
8. While the above customer service is occurring at Rite Aid, all the people in line behind you are smiling and telling you Plenti points are awesome.
9. Farmer’s markets here aren’t the bloodbath they are in Brooklyn. People don’t seem to think you’re a soulless monster for daring to bring a stroller into the market space. There aren’t 18 people in line behind you tapping their feet and sighing loudly at every stall.
10. The tomatoes and the apples are RIDICULOUS. This may be the first time I’ve truly understood why tomatoes are actually a fruit – when they really taste like tomatoes, they are so sweet and juicy and kind of life-changing.
11. You have at least one friend who has chickens.
12. Your friend who has chickens lives in the actual city part of Burlington.
13. The chickens all have names.
14. When you buy a bed for your big grown-up three-and-a-half year old son at a local furniture store, you also leave with the email address, home number and cell phone number of your salesperson’s daughter who is a yoga teacher at a studio near you because she noticed you’re wearing your baby, so maybe you’d be interested in baby and me yoga?
15. Soft serve ice-creams here are called “Creamees” and they are way better than any soft-serve you’ve ever tasted.
16. It is going to take longer than three weeks to slow down enough to not get pissed when service at a restaurant or a cafe is not at lightening speed. But, three weeks is also the marker for realizing you are being crazy and need to calm down already.
17. People walk slow, but they also seem to have a sixth sense for New Yorkers approaching them from behind at a reasonable pace (i.e. as fast as humanly possible) and move to the side and kind of cower as you rush past.
18. They sell wine at supermarkets.
19. It’s really, really pretty here. There are a lot of trees. Rumor has it, they’re all going to be different colors soon. We may have chosen the perfect time to move to Vermont.
20. People shop in supermarkets here. Actual stores with carts and wide aisles. I keep grabbing my phone to use my FreshDirect app when I run out of something and add it to my list, before realizing I need to go to a physical store. This isn’t a bad thing, I’m just not used to it yet. But – related – Fresh Direct just emailed me and said it’s been so long since I’ve ordered that they’re going to take away my Chef’s Table status. And that made me sad.
Suffice to say, we are very happy so far with our big move. It feels right. It feels like home. Of course it will take some getting used to, but I imagine even Westchester is a culture shock after living in the city. We still consider ourselves New Yorkers (I’m not sure that will ever go away) but I have a good sense of how quickly this lifestyle will be my happy place.
Have you ever made a big move and had a touch of culture shock?
Do you think I will ever walk slowly here? Any former New Yorkers who’ve slowed down?