Living in a new town is never easy. But I moved to what was voted the third snobbiest town in Vermont. It’s true, they actually have a poll to determine that.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Before I moved here nearly two years ago, I might have thought it deserved to be number one on that list.
Shelburne, Vermont, has a… reputation.
It has a reputation for being filled to the brim with rich people. People who own private beaches and “capes” in other states. People who drive cars that would cost me my savings to simply think about owning, and who privately school all of their children.
When my husband and I decided that living in Shelburne’s new low-income housing development was the best place for us, I was terrified.
We’re not drowning in debt, but student loans, car loans, and did I mention we have two kids and are living on one income, make us surely treading in the water of debt.
My husband seemed to take our possible move in stride. He does that though. He takes a lot of things “in stride” with his long legs. He’s tall, and that’s just what those people do. But, I am short, and a stay at home mother who has to interact with people living around me every day to stay afloat.
What was I going to do? There’s no way we can afford private school for either of our kids. Our car is a 2010, and I don’t own a single piece of Patagonia gear or clothing.
The reputation was getting to me, big time. I WAS terrified.
Would I fit in? Would my little motley crew family fit in? Would the rest of us low-income housing dwellers be shunned like noncompliant Amish people? What was going to happen?
Then we moved. I was pregnant with my daughter. There I was, nervous about becoming a mother of two and facing a sea of unknown faces. Faces I had heard would turn against people like me.
I nervously went to my first play group. Whew, what was it going to be like? As you can probably guess, that sea of stony, icy faces never materialized. In fact, month after month, I met some of the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever known.
That’s not to say that living in this town hasn’t felt a little different to me.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much activewear per square foot in any other town in the county. These people are constantly moving, jogging, speed walking… all the time.
I never thought one little town could have such an infatuation with a vegetable. But mine does. Not to mention canvas shopping bags. They’re everywhere! I feel horrible if anyone sees me carrying a plastic Hannaford bag!
But guess what, since moving here, I started jogging. I now have a collection of reusable shopping bags, which I… occasionally remember to bring to the store with me. So, yeah, I guess you can say that I’ve drunk the kool-aid.
Shelburne has this incredible sense of community. Halloween is huge here with a parade and trick or treating at the Shelburne Museum. There is a private beach that only Shelburne residents can use. A beach where each year there is a community picnic. The community garden is huge and is a short walk from my house. It’s probably the place where they grow all of that kale! Every December, we have a community tree lighting in the center of town where everyone gathers around “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” style to sing Christmas carols. It’s amazing. And just look how many times I used “community” in that paragraph. I live in and am a part of a special community.
You can’t judge a town by some poll online or even by what you hear.
You can’t judge people in a town by a town’s reputation, or by what they wear, or eat. You hear it over and over again growing up: judging things by covers is never the best way to go. How funny at 33, I’m still learning that lesson.