Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Cosmopolitan North

Do you live in a city? Can't imagine being more than 4 blocks from Starbucks? Need to be able to get to a yoga class 5 days a week, and replinish the wardrobe of LuluLemon outfits frequently? Do you like to watch foreign cinema, or go to the ballet on a regular basis? Do you enjoy dining at a multitude of different resturants on a regular basis?

If you answered yes yes yes yes and yes you're probably an entrenched urbanite, and probably get a bit uncomfortable if you roam outside of the city (Where are the highrises, the people? Where can I get a venti half-caf mocha with a pinch of cinnamon, hold the foam?!). Many people who live in cities find it difficult to fathom how people who live in smaller places do it. What is there to do? How do you meet people? Where do you get a coffee??? If you are really an urbanite this is an important question, and you probably shouldn't get out of range of the hum of a city. However, if, like most people in cities, you're more city-dweller than an actual urbanite, it's a question worth considering.

Dr. H. and I lived in Vancouver for the past 2 years, and like most people we were more city-dwellers than urbanites. While we enjoyed Vancouver as a city (it's a nice place!), we didn't really take advantage of it in the urbanite sense. We shopped at the grocery store near our house, ate at the resturants near our house, got our take out from our regular places (mmmm Banana Leaf), and never (not even once) managed to go to a ballet. The difference here is crucial. A true urbanite, a trendster in clothes that are so cool the average person can't even figure out that they are cool, with a tall-exotic caffinated energy infused beverage in hand can't be removed from the city. Open land is to urbanites as holy water is to vampires. But city-dwellers are a different story. While city dwellers may not have experience living outside of the city, it's an experience they might actually enjoy.

Iqaluit is a small place. It only has a few stores, a few resturants, one movie theatre, and far less than 1% of the population of greater Vancouver. On the surface it seems there is far less to do, far fewer people to meet and that it might be a boring place. A closer look shows that it's actually not true. Iqaluit, and many other small spots, have just as many grocery stores and resturants, and movie theatres as we frequented in Vancouver. It's also a very social place. In Vancouver I could wander around for days and never run into anyone I knew. In Iqaluit I see someone I know every time I go anywhere, and usually get introduced to whoever they are with. It's easy to meet people here, and very social. In the 2 weeks we've been here so far we've probably gone to as many dinners with friends, potlucks, and other social gatherings as we did in the last 6 months in Vancouver.

Sure, there are some downsides to small towns: less privacy, and craving for a Tim Horton's coffee chief among them, but overall it's a nice change. We're enjoying it a lot, and would recomend that anyone who's living in the city but contemplating something different to give it a try. Change is invigorating!


Jon said...

That's it! I am packing up and walking your way now. Expect me there some time in October.

Nancy said...

I find it wierd that Iqaluit doesn't have a Tim Hortons yet. I'm sure it could sustain one easily.

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

Ha, I grew up in a little tiny town with nothing more than a general store, a diner, and a gas station, but I am SUCH an urbanite at heart :) I didn't realize how much of a city person I am until I read this post :)

The MSILF said...

It is weird...I always assumed I was an urbanite, but actually, I HATE urban living...and like you, never really took advantage of it. I like the comfortable smallness a lot more. Who woulda thunk?

Glad you guys are enjoying.

Beach Bum said...

I stumbled on your blog today. Some really great stuff! The furthest north I ever got was living in rural Alberta. I enjoyed it, although it was nice to occasionally be able to head in to Edmonton and wander The Mall.

Genies Alan said...

Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

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