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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Small Town Boy in a Big Ol' City

Welcome to another edition of WHO AM I WEDNESDAY - the portion of the blog in which I take a deeper look at things in order to figure out why I am the way I am, and how I appear to others. 

And the topic for today's analysis?  Well, it's exactly what the title states.  A small town boy in a big ol' city.

Let me explain the circumstances behind this blog.  I live in a small town community of 22,000 people.  It's considered to be one of those towns that has a lot of historical significance, and therefore is listed as a tourist community.  And certainly there are lots of reasons why I can see this as being the case.  Aside from a two year period in which I lived elsewhere, I have spent most of my life in this area.  And like most other places on this planet, this place has its good parts and its bad parts. 

Of course, small town life is what I'm used to.  When I was a kid, I used to think that my hometown was so big, and that it would take days to explore.  Of course, now as an adult, I realize that the town isn't as big as I thought it was.  At least not compared to larger cities like Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, or Quebec City. 

Now, granted, I did call Ottawa my home away from home for a couple of years, but even then I didn't really go out and explore the city back then.  At 19, I was suffering a little bit from small fish, big pond syndrome, and I didn't feel comfortable in a city that huge at all.  The only time I ever really ventured out into the city was when I had to cover a story for the college newspaper or if I had to run down to the nearest 7-Eleven store to pick up some snacks for Survivor night.

(And yes, Survivor was on way back in 2001.)

The point is that even though I had a huge city to explore, I stayed on or near the residence hall because to me it felt more like that small town atmosphere that I grew up in.  I don't know why I felt that just happened that way.

So, I decided to try an experiment.  It has now been a dozen years since I left Ottawa.  A lot has changed in those twelve years, and I'm probably more confident than I have ever been in my life.  What if I pretended to be a tourist in a city larger than mine?  And what if I actually wandered the streets of said city and tried to do what the locals did, go where the locals go, hang out where the locals hung out, etc.

I got the opportunity to try this experiment out yesterday.  I had a family member who had to go to a pair of doctor's appointments at the same hospital in the nearby community of Kingston, Ontario (population 117,200 - nearly six times the size of my current town of residence).  This hospital was located just a block away from the main street of town and was within driving distance of some of the shopping plazas, outlet malls, and box stores in the area. 

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to go out of town.  And, through these pictures that I snapped with my iPod, I thought I'd share my random thoughts with you through pictures and comments, and compare some of the major differences between Kingston and my hometown.  Most of these are quite hilarious and silly, but I come to a really serious conclusion at the end of it all.

Let's begin our tour of Kingston from the parking garage across the street from the hospital, shall we?

1.  I'm standing on the sixth floor of the parking garage, as it says on this sign.  There's ten floors in total.  In my little area, all our parking garages are one level.  And, they aren't garages.  They're lots.  Already, this place has bigger parking structures than we do.

2.  This place also seems to have larger hospitals.  This is just one of the hospitals that Kingston has.  Which I believe is three times the size of ours. 

3.  Although I believe that our bus lines are running later during a trial run for the rest of 2014, I'm pointing out the bus in this picture as another major difference between Kingston and my town.  Public transit holds more people and runs longer in larger cities.  As someone who has a phobia of driving, this is definitely something that I am envious of - cities that have the manpower to transport people whenever and wherever they want to go.

4 - One thing I noticed when walking down the streets of Kingston is that practically everyone was carrying a beverage of some sort.  I mean it!  I felt so left out that I ducked inside of a Tim Hortons to sip on a frozen lemonade just to blend in!  Not that I cared about conforming at that stage.  When it's 34 degrees Celsius with the humidity, I needed that frozen drink!

5 - Of course, when you have a Starbucks on the corner, like this one on Kingston's main street, I suppose it's easy to grab a java on the go.  Might I add that this is one of several Starbucks in the area?  My town only has one.

6 - Oh my lord, even the stores are five times larger than the stores where I am.  The "Staples" location in my area would maybe fill a fraction of this huge place!

7 - I love the fact that the nearby mall in Kingston sells a lot of "neat things".  Seriously, check out the name of the store.  Neat Things.  I think they sell hockey memorabilia or something like that.  I'm not sure exactly.

8 - Yes, I took a photo of the competition store.  But only from the outside.  And only because my town doesn't have one.

9 - I don't think that we have anywhere in my town that is greeted by a gigantic stuffed moose.  I have no idea how much this guy cost, but I figured I'd at least get a shot of him before he got sold.

Of course, those are the major differences that I found.  Basically everything is bigger and has more people.  But for all of the differences there are, there's a whole lot of similarities.

Both places have interesting architecture. (Kingston on top, my town on bottom).

Both places have a market square that attracts a lot of people.

Both places have historical landmarks.

Both places have attractive looking storefronts in their downtown core.

And, most importantly, both places have their share of friendly natives, as everyone who I crossed paths with were kind, courteous, and great representatives for their community.  That's awesome to see.

And, I suppose that's the point that I want to make here.  It doesn't matter whether you've been in a city for six months or sixty years.  Everyone has the power within themselves to represent their community the best way they know how.  And, I certainly hope that I've done a good job making both cities places to visit.

I also think that a person can find a way to make any place their home.  I may not have had much success in Ottawa, but I certainly did have some in Kingston yesterday.  And I'm telling you...getting more self-confidence about myself in an area that I'm not overly familiar with...that's a good feeling.

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