No one appreciates their city like the natives of that city. And no one lacks appreciation of their city like the natives of that city. In a strange but undeniable way, both statements are true. There is usually a small subset of a population who grew up there and is immersed in the culture and lore. They know every square foot of pavement in the town square. They remember where they were and what they were eating when the Walmart came to town and their beloved ma and pa store closed its doors for good. They knew the mayor when he was still in diapers. And they didn’t think much of him then, either.
The rest of the people living in the city don’t even know who the mayor is. That lack of civic involvement extends to all levels of government. Half of them only moved there because they got work at the Walmart. They know nothing of the town’s history and the local lore. They care about the school and the daycare and the commute and the next long weekend when they can get out of town and go someplace interesting. As strange as it seems, this happens just as much in big cities as it does small towns. The fact is you probably live in a pretty great place once you get to know it. And one of the best ways to get to know it is by becoming a tourist and rediscovering your city. Here is some of what you will find:
If you have ever met an actual architect, you know they can find all kinds of interesting tidbits in the places you think are least interesting. Your hometown very likely has a handful of architectural treasures you would only appreciate if you have studied the subject formally. Take a closer look at the churches and municipal buildings in your area. They were designed by people just like you.
The difference is that instead of just staring gobsmacked at the grand rotunda of the courthouse, they went on to get their architecture degree and learned to build it and improve upon past ideas. Before you could drive through that one neighborhood that goes way over the top with holiday lights, someone had to design those homes so they would be spectacular year round, with or without the lights. Your city, regardless of the size, is a place where men and women toiled to build. Every house has a story, every building has a past. Don’t let the tourists be the only ones who appreciate them.
If you have never visited New York City in the winter, you are missing out on a real treat. Count yourself doubly lucky if it snows. Visitors to the city love Macy’s on 34th St. during the holidays, Bryant Park, Central Park, and Times Square in all its seasonal splendor.
But you don’t have to visit a city of 8 million people to appreciate what the different seasons have to offer. Lear about your own town’s winter festival. Go to a farmer’s market and show some appreciation for your local produce. Different times of the year offer different views into nature. There are lots of people in big cities who would gladly trade places with you just for a chance to sit in your local park in the spring and fish in your favorite creak in the fall. Find that special seasonal something in your neck of the woods.
DISCOVER YOUR NEW FAVORITE
When you become a tourist, you tend to visit the little shops along the boulevard you didn’t even know were there. Who knew those bagels were that good? Visiting a little restaurant on the other side of town can be a real revelation. You thought you knew the best rib joint in town. Now, who can say? You will be surprised at how just a slight change in perspective can help you discover your new favorite that you didn’t even know was there.
Every city is awful and every city is amazing. It is a matter of perspective. When you view your city through the eyes of a tourist, you will notice the architecture that has stood the test of time, the seasonal splendor you didn’t know was there. And your new favorite places that have been there all along.
There really is so much to see and do at home, don’t wait to be a host to some friends travelling from another state, get out there and explore for yourself. You’ll be surprised at the gems you discover along the way.