Last week in a whirlwind blur, I took our two children and our son’s girlfriend to Upstate NY. It was the only time before snow flies that we could visit family, check in on my father-in-law, and help my sister with an out of town appointment. Did I mention it was whirlwind?
Wait, I’m not done.
Our teen son asked if it would be possible to travel to the Adirondacks, the home of my romance books and place where my heart feels at the most peace. They didn’t remember being there and wondered what it was like. His girlfriend, a hard working teen who hasn’t seen a lot of scenery outside of Youngstown, had never been in the mountains. I only had a day to work with, but I went for it thinking we could also take senior pictures.
I’m so glad we did it. Oh, it was 600 miles in 12 hours and my body’s still trying to recover. But to watch the kids experience a different culture from what they see in and around Youngstown?
Here’s what I observed.
The girlfriend kept saying, “This place is like an old time movie I’d watch on the Hallmark channel.” She’s right. I took them to Speculator, the inspiration for my series, Entrusted (available now,) Entangled (coming soon,) and Engaged (in progress.) Hamilton County has no traffic lights. Speculator has one stop sign at the four corners. Where our son’s girlfriend lives, I have to deal with a traffic light every few feet. No lie.
2. It’s also a huge change in attitudes and behaviors. We had complete strangers waving to us as we drove by, let us ahead for things when it wasn’t our turn. These are things I know are core to small town living. But to watch the kids see this, they were shocked. I wish they saw this in Youngstown, but it’s rare. We wouldn’t dare park and walk around in our area without locking our cars. The kids got to see locking up is optional. That might seem crazy to you, but here’s the reality. Everyone knows everyone in the small village, and they are safe. I pray that never changes.
3. The pictures make these city kids look natural. Almost. Our son remembers his first five years in Upstate NY, although he doesn’t remember visiting the Adirondacks. He is a country boy living in a suburb. Taking pictures of him at the Sacandaga River Walkway was so fun to see. He looked like a natural. His girlfriend? The same. Our daughter? Well, she lets everyone know she is a city girl. Although she thanked me for the trip and said the area was beautiful, she made it clear she’d never live in a place so isolated. Her picture in “downtown Speculator” shows that she wasn’t ready for the mountain air. Or wind.
Have you ever had the opportunity to watch something unfold in someone else? What was it like? I’d love to hear about it.