It’s Top 5 Tuesday again! You know what that means–my Top 5 for the week, this time extolling the virtues of the little coastal town where Natalie will grow up and Mikey and I will grow old.
Here they are, the Top 5 Reasons I Love Natalie’s Hometown
1. Tourists (well, for half the year). There are always bound to be complaints from the locals about tourists during the summer months–you know the gripes: backed-up traffic, crowded shops and restaurants, no parking spaces, confused drivers on the road, etc. But me? I love that I get to live in a town that people want to come visit on their vacations. People are taking time off and spending their money on a few hours or days in the town I get to enjoy every single day. Don’t get me wrong, I also love that during the late fall and winter months our little seaside city becomes a sleepy village where restaurant reservations are unnecessary and my (laughably short) commute is cut in half. But, c’mon, I live in Vacationland. The very reasons Rockland is tourist central were what lured me here in the first place. Natalie will get to grow up enjoying rugged hikes; days at the beach; views from the tops of lighthouses; meals at the quickly-multiplying number of coffee shops, bistros, and diners; festival after festival; harbor cruises; Boardwalk strolls; and more.
2. The Ocean. I am so curious to see what Natalie’s connection to our harbor will be. Will she sail? Kayak? Swim? Command a lobster boat? There are so many watery options for our little beach baby. Aside from the wind that rips through town on many days, the ocean is also a weather regulator for Rockland–we enjoy cool summer days and mild winter ones. We get to hear waves crashing on our walks downtown, and smell salty air all the way up at our little duplex. Seafood is fresh and majorly on the cheap. For these, and so many more, reasons, I am daily in awe of my backyard Atlantic Ocean.
3. No rich kids. This one is a double-edged sword–on the one hand, Rockland youth struggle to fight against the notably high pregnancy and drug use rates that come along with living in a working-class town. Kids here are often just barely getting what they need at home, and have to work hard to help their families make ends meet. But on the other hand, kids here have a hometown pride that only comes from being the underdog. Snobbiness and self-importance are all but entirely absent, and there is something to be said for the fact that, as the child of two do-gooder educators, Natalie will never have to feel like the poor kid at school (as she would in, ahem, a town just a few minutes up the road).
4. Decorated storefronts. This one I love because it represents the pride that business owners and managers take in their work here. While we do (luckily, I’ll admit) have a handful of big-box stores just out of downtown, our Main Street is filled nearly to capacity with small businesses that are open year-round to serve locals as well as tourists. In the winter, twinkle-lights, wreaths, and pinecones adorn the window fronts–in the fall it’s pumpkins and leaves and cattails. Summer verges on tacky with the lobsters and blueberries and moose, which is just right for all of those out-of-staters. Walking downtown is a pleasure because of the businesses that exist there, and it tickles me to think that someday Natalie will likely be a server or dishwasher or sales clerk or barista in one of those local haunts.
5. Friendly people. Maines often take pride in their ability to give a chilly reception to people from away, and are hesitant to accept outsiders as their own (sometimes even after generations of a family have made their home here). But, really? I kinda think that a lot of that is an act. When you walk into a business in Rockland, whether it be a hair salon or a coffee shop, you are greeted with a smile and a friendly salutation nearly every single time. Drivers stop for pedestrians in crosswalks here (it’s the law, you know), people smile and say hello when you pass them on the street, and there are just enough whackadoos to keep things interesting.
In short, I love this town. Natalie’s town.
What do you love about where you live?