Moving across 2, 399 miles is no small feat, nor is trying to adjust from suburban Marshfield, Mass. to tiny Ferron. In the summer of 2002, my family and I made our trek by van across the country. On the way, we saw just about every kind of country imaginable, from the green, soft sloping hills of tree-covered Massachusetts, to the broad, expansive plains of Ohio and Kansas, to the arid desert of the place I call home. None of my friends from Marshfield understand the reason I love this place. When they hear that the nearest Wal-Mart is 45 minutes away, that the nearest mall is almost two hours away, and that Ferron has almost as many people as Marshfield high school, they think I have truly gone 'round the bend.' But they never get to see the desert sunsets, smell the clean, crisp air, or swim in an unpolluted lake.
School here has afforded me many opportunities. Concurrent enrollment classes are practically free through the school. If you work hard, you can graduate with an associates' degree from the College of Eastern Utah. I have collected almost the necessary 63 credits for a grand total sum of $25. So many programs are more accessible through small towns, like sterling scholars, peer helpers, youth city councils, and more, that were unavailable in a big town.
The advantages of living in a small town are many, but they don't come free. I am learning how to live without anonymity, and getting used to seeing my teachers in church. The first time I went to church after school started, I was thoroughly creeped out by my English teacher sitting two pews away from me, surrounded by grandkids. And if you make a mistake, everyone knows about it.
There are outdoor sports to do, mountains to hike, game to hunt, trails to bike or take 4-wheelers on, and plenty of driving to do. Here, you can drive for five hours and barely be in another state. In Massachusetts, driving for five hours would get you through at least three states, depending on which direction you took.
Boston's culture, in contrast, is much more rooted in tradition. Since 1620, Massachusetts has been a stronghold of American society at its richest. Filled with symphony halls, opera halls, Fenway Park with its legendary 'Green Monster,' playhouses, free concerts and Shakespeare plays on the Commons, Boston is one of the most artsy cities in the country. The crowded train, fondly referred to as 'The T,' 28 colleges and universities, the dirty streets and the pristine shopping malls of the wealthy all melded to form the Boston area.
I lived in a beach town called Marshfield about 35 miles south of the city, a five minute walk from the Atlantic. Our town was not considered large for the area, but we had about 50,000 people-more than Emery and Carbon counties combined. In the summer, we would have an enormous tourist influx, spawned by the expanse of clean beach we had. There was a river, two marinas, and a fishery all within one mile of my house. Heading inland, you would find winding roads, glorified cow-paths of the 17th century that had been paved and called streets. Maples, oaks, chestnuts, and birches overhung the byways, turning a road into a green, living tunnel in the summer and a blazon of color in the fall. The marshes would signal the seasons, turning pale, delicate green in the spring, and rusty brown in the fall.
|One of Sumiko's favorite spots on the beach back in Massachusetts.|
The people varied as much as people in any place do. There were the wealthy with their sloping lawns overlooking the tidal river, the bourgeoise with their modest homes, and the poor living in crowded apartments. In school, there were the music department kids, the dramies, the athletes, the smokers, and the other-illegal-drug-users; the teachers' pets, the rebels, and just about any other labels you could think of. Labels were commonplace in a graduating class of nearly 400.
I was always a music department and drama kid. I was part of Marshalairs, the auditioned choir, and played viola in the school orchestra. I built sets and ran lighting for the drama club. Our music department would take a trip to Disney World every four years, and a smaller trip every two years. I went on a trip to Washington, D.C. with the orchestra. Our drama club would participate in festivals around the Greater Boston area, going to colleges and putting on student-written, student-directed plays. One of the advantages of living in a metropolis is the range of options that are open.
Shooting pool, bowling, swimming in the ocean, performing in Boston, and going to movies were common pastimes for me while I lived in Massachusetts.
Many of my friends from the East Coast don't understand the allure of driving a Bronco up the canyon to just sit by the river and soak up the beauty and majesty of the mountains. By the same token, many of my friends here can't understand my deep-seated love of dirty trains, busy city streets, and jaywalking.
But all that is only here and there.
Boston or Ferron, metropolis or small town, life is life either way, and I like it.