Saratoga Spring is unlike anywhere I’ve lived before. It’s like someone walked into my dreams and left with my idealized vision of what a city should be, and draped it over Saratoga Springs. There’s a shopping district, a year-round farmer’s market with green peppers the size of a softball, art galleries, and specialty food stores with a cheese section that I’m pretty sure is illegal in some states.
The local food! Unless you count Ben&Jerry’s, which has a store about 1/2 mile from our apartment, we haven’t eaten at a single chain restaurant the entire time we’ve been here, and it’s all been just amazing. We’ve only been in town 10 days, and already we’ve already found a hole-in-the-wall Chinese place that will deliver, a New York-style pizza place where they recognize us, and we’re looking to permanently move into the Irish pub that’s literally 400 feet from our doorstep.
We’re also really digging how beautiful it is around here. As we slip into autumn, the leaves are exploding into color between the old New England houses. All the streets are meticulous, and the air is beginning to feel crisp and clean. And just behind it all, there’s the mountains in the distance, adding purple-gray texture. Every evening we go for a walk, (partially to combat the afore mentioned cheese,) and looking around, it’s hard not to smile as we take in the beauty of our new home.
But there’s one thing about Saratoga Springs that’s just…weird. And a little uncomfortable. And may take me a while to get over.
The people here. They’re…nice.
To quote my husband? “This isn’t New York where people mug you, this is New York where people hug you.”
It’s just so weird! Everyone, from our landlord to the man selling apples at the farmer’s market to the woman behind the counter at the cable company, has been so…friendly. And helpful. And not in a, “Check out that hot girl, maybe if I give her directions she’ll give me her number,” kind of friendly, but in a, “Welcome to our town! I think you’re going to like it here, let me help you find your way,” kind of friendly. And to tell you the truth, it’s kind-of…disarming.
I guess it’s just because the last two places that we’ve really lived, Atlanta and Decatur, IL, weren’t the friendliest sort of towns. Atlanta is like any other big city; full of tired and generally harassed people who would very much like you to not look at them with a smattering of crime. And Decatur…well, let’s just say that if no one stole your tires, it was a good day. I never felt comfortable walking alone after dark in either city, nor did I ever exchange anything with any of my neighbors except perhaps an uncomfortable smile and a suspicious look. I grew used to feeling as if anyone that I didn’t know personally had the potential to hurt me, or at the very least, be an asshole.
But here, no one seems interested in broad assholery. We walked home from the pub last night, and there were no shadows sizing us up, no dark figures up ahead, not even anyone curled up on a bench or in a doorstep. We did see another couple walking in the opposite direction, and -get this- they waved at us. Whether it’s by giving us directions or advising us as to where to buy groceries, everyone seem genuinely interested in helping my husband and I feel at home here, and I tell you what, it’s freaking me right the fuck out. It makes me wonder what the catch is: mind control chemicals in the spring water? brain-melting viruses that mutated from the delectable goat cheese available at the local deli? or will every one of these people one day show up at my door demanding a carton of eggs in exchange for their kind words?
Or am I just paranoid. And need to get over it. And be excited that we live in such a friendly city and grateful for all the kind people we’ve met.
Yeah, we’ll go with that one.
(But I’m still locking my door.)