In the limited amount of traveling I have done, I have been lucky enough to visit New York City twice. My first trip, which took place last year, was incredible. New York City is everything you see in the movies yet has a pace and fervor that cannot be captured on film.
It was this year's trip, though, that had a much more profound effect on the way I view the city, and consequently, my choice to live in a small town. With the initial culture shock of my first visit behind me, I was able to slow down and enjoy watching a lifestyle that is so different from my own.
In Carbon County, I make jumbo runs to the grocery store and try to think of everything I need that can be frozen or stored. I grab the perishables that interest me at the time and head for the car with a weighted-down shopping cart.
For those in New York, you get a few necessities, taking into account that you'll be carrying the bag home and likely to a small apartment without much extra room. You shop for a meal, not for a month. For those lucky and wealthy enough to have a car, parking spots are nearly non-existent and the cheaper parking lots are over $6 per half-hour of parking. On the other hand, I am not sure how many people actually cook or eat at home. You cannot walk a block in most parts of Manhattan without passing several food spots, all of which are very good.
In Carbon County, I can walk Main Street in Helper on a Friday night and not see one person. Traffic jams are when two cars are stopped at the same stop sign and most people have enough property to actually need a lawnmower.
The majority of the cars on the road in New York City are cabs. Every time you cross the street, there are 25 other people crossing it with you. Living by a park is as close as most people get to regular interaction with grass.
In Carbon County, you can own a house for next to nothing and taxes are affordable. The most fashion conscious among us head to Provo for the finest clothing the mall offers.
For New Yorkers, a small apartment can cost thousands of dollars a month and making ends meet can require multiple jobs. Some residents have paid more for a handbag than I paid for my first car.
I left New York with an odd mix of smugness weighted down by a feeling of inferiority. When I sit down in my relatively big, cheap house, I love having my own space and not sharing a thermostat with my neighbor. But, I will never feel the reprieve that a tiny New York apartment offers from the buzz of the exciting city.
I have access to endless hikes and breathtaking views just outside my front door. But I'll never be able to walk from my house to the Metropolitan Museum or be minutes from the Statue of Liberty.
In the end, I guess I realize that my life is pretty good here. And so is theirs.