Culture ShockWhen I lived in San Francisco (past tense! sob!), my relatives at home would wonder if I was safe. "Are you really happy living in such a big city?" my grandfather would ask. "When are you going to move back home?" I assured him that I was happy, and that the chances of me moving back were slim indeed.
The thing is: San Francisco never felt like a big, scary city to me. Each neighborhood had it's own quaint charm; I could walk the streets at night and only run into a person here or there. If I ran out of half-and-half for my tea, I could dash out the door (in my pajamas, no less) to the little store half a block away and be back before my tea got cold. If I needed screws or paint or duct tape, I went half a block in the other direction to get them. There was rarely a wait. People recognized me. I waved and said hi to people all day long.
Moving to the suburbs, the experience is quite different. Everyone lives in their own separate world here. You have to drive everywhere; there will be no dashing about in my pajamas here, I'm sad to say. The stores are enormous. I can't imagine ever seeing the same person behind the checkout counter, as there are so many counters and so many employees that it would be impossible to actually get to know anyone.
I feel more afraid and alone here than I ever did in the city.
What is this nonsense I've heard about small-town America?
A flawed perception, that. The "small town" is inside the big city.