Living and Working, One Place or Two?

As many of you, I have today off from work for President’s Day (though technically it is officially designated as Washington’s Birthday. See here for an interesting fact check about this holiday).  In recent months I have spent my days off getting ahead on grad school applications, GRE studying, other random writing projects, going for a run, and of course, drinking lots of coffee from my favorite local shop. I consider my time spent running and drinking coffee as time spent enjoying my town. (And as you can read in Friday’s post, I do try to make an effort to always enjoy where I am).

For whatever reason, the town is currently undergoing sidewalk repairs. To me, this seems rather silly in the chilly February weather, but I suppose they have their reasons.  While walking home from the coffee shop this morning, I realized that I tend to always walk the same way, unless something changes my routine.  Today it was the sidewalk repairs. I also walked a slightly different way to the coffee shop this morning, but I’ve walked that route at other times. However, on my way home, in order to avoid the concrete dust and the drilling noises, I cut down a different street and through the library parking lot, essentially one block down that I normally walk. And, as silly as this sounds, I remembered that it’s sometimes fun to take a new route.

Maybe it’s just me, or does everyone tend to stick to the same routes? In college, I never did. I always liked to walk home from classes or work or practice a new way and wander through the less traveled paths on campus. And on road trips or bike rides, I love traveling down unknown roads. So why would that change now, here? I’d guess that it is because while I live here, I do not work here, meaning most of my time is not spent here, walking around. When I am in town I walk the routes I know I like and past the stores because there is always something interesting to see.  Call me a creature of habit.

This self analysis reminds me that I am one of those people who would love to work in the town where she lives. Of course, factors such as walkability and a short commute come into play as well, but mostly working and living in the same would give me the greatest connection to where I am, and maybe that would solve this geographic commitment phobia (maybe).  Not everyone wants to live and work in the same place – many people want to get away and keep those parts of their lives completely separate. Not me. Being a preservationist ties together every part of my life and makes me want to keep that strong connection. It all reflects back to people having pride where the live – sense of place, quality of life. You can’t escape this discussion.

I’ll come up with a plan for the next adventure in life. What about you? Does it matter to you?

Small Town Moments

This may or may not have been stated, implied, or recognized in previous posts, but I have geographic commitment phobia.  Relationships, habits, hobbies, promises – I’m reliable and will commit 100 percent. But, tell me to choose one place to call home (aside from my childhood home) and I will run in the other direction.  Maybe it due to my age, stage in life, or the fact that I’ve read too many books about pioneers on the Oregon Trail.

Whatever the reason, this conflicts with my notion of loving the place where I am, and feeling that sense of place and pride in one’s community. I’m not really being true to my word if I keep dreaming of other places, am I?  I have issues with the warm southern weather and the lack of snow and the distance from home. But, I love small towns (mostly), the railroad tracks sitting one block away, the constantly sunny days, my house, my running routes, and the people I have met.  And these factors are all important in making me content to live where I do. There are certain small town moments that I love, classic Americana, if you will.

Looking up on a late afternoon in February.

Looking up on a late afternoon in February.

Last year, Vinny and I brought laundry to the laundromat in order to catch up on the neglected baskets full of dirty clothes and towels. We loaded the laundry into the machines and then sat outside on the hood of my car, eating a pizza, while the freight train passed by, not even 100 yards away.  Moments like that will always remind me of this small town in America.

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Looking south down the railroad tracks at sunset.

The other day after work we took a walk around town in the 70 degree, windy weather (in February).  We saw a few people along the way and meandered past the shops and boutiques that had since closed for the day.  And since I’m still participating in Project 365, I always have my camera and am delighted to find good opportunities, such as this building in town.  Sotheby’s Realty had previously been a robin’s egg sort of blue, so the change to natural wood is not something you can miss.

Sotheby's in town. Undergoing a color change!

Sotheby's in town. Undergoing a color change!

Upon closer inspection, we could tell that they were in the middle this task, which became obvious once we turned the corner. I believe it was even a darker shade of blue than in this picture, but you get the idea. While blue may not be historically accurate, Southern Pines has yellow, dark green, and pink buildings along the streets, so the blue fit in nicely.

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From blue to natural.

So, whether it takes you a walk around town on a beautiful day, a good cup of coffee, gazing at houses, finding a good restaurant, or anything else, I hope you find some way to enjoy the place you live. It always takes me a while and it may not be constant, but I think if we are all happy to be where we are for now, life is much easier.  And the preservation field will thank us for finding value everywhere we live. Think of the National Trust’s initiative, This Place Matters.  And send along stories of why you like where you live.

Train station in Southern Pines

Train station in Southern Pines