Deference to the Small Town Life

Richie Rosen, Staff Writer

It was pretty strange over Thanksgiving break to go from the dreariness of Hamilton to the breakneck pace of Los Angeles after not being home for three months. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

When you’ve spent a long enough time away from somewhere, upon returning you notice things that you probably weren’t aware of before you left – things that blended in with everything else. That was definitely the case with me. I enjoyed looking at a big city with a fresh pair of eyes. On the car ride home my face was literally plastered against the car window like a five-year-old. But it didn’t take long for the grandeur of everything to get overwhelming and then, ironically, boring.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed being home and catching up with family and friends, but that was where the happiness was; I never felt a sense of contentment from simply being back home. 

Maybe not everyone feels the same way that I do, but I felt like this was something worth writing about because most Colgate students come from hometowns that are larger and have more to offer (at least in a material sense) than Hamilton. I remember the first couple weeks I was here, a home friend and I would constantly whine about how much better the food was, or how much we missed driving a car, or how such and such was better; basically trying to nitpick out grievances because it was easy to pick on small-town Hamilton.

What I don’t think either of us understood then was that you simply cannot compare a town like Hamilton to a big city like Los Angeles, Chicago or New York. Of course, there is not going to be the same volume of things to do. Of course, the food is not going to be as good. Of course, the overall atmosphere is not going to be one of constant, buzzing activity. Hamilton does its best to provide the students of Colgate with some aspects of big city life, and I would say that, for the most part, it does a pretty good job with what it has.

Hamilton is at its best when it is taken in slowly. Unlike big cities, where I feel like the days go by in abrupt starts, up here the days seem to have a natural, unimpeded flow to them. Like the rolling hills that surround the town, each one peacefully acquiesces into the next. Hamilton is quiet, not in an eerie way, but rather, a tranquil one. Traffic isn’t really a thing up here, and the irritating, always-there background noise that seems to be a staple of every metropolis is missing too.

There have been early mornings when I emerge from my dorm to the sounds of almost nothingmaybe a lone breeze rattles some leaves. The quietness goes hand in hand with a sense of mental clarity. It’s refreshing to be able to hear yourself think. And there is the nature that surrounds Hamilton, which is probably the most tangible aspect of what makes the town so incredible. I think we can all agree that it does not disappoint. To describe it would require me to pull out almost every nature cliché in the book. I feel like if you are outside here, there is a picturesque scene from almost any frame of reference. We take small stuff like this for granted. College is stressful, and at some point, we all have to go face-to-face with the trials and tribulations that it brings our way. Hamilton’s peaceful backdrop makes things just a little bit easier. 

Not everything is perfect of course. It is starting to get obscenely cold up here and sometimes the feeling of disconnect from larger “society” can be pretty jarring. Some nights when I’m sawing through a piece of chicken at Frank I’ll reminisce about food back home. But I can look past that stuff. What can’t be overlooked are the moments of near-unbelievable serenity that you can only get from a small town.

Picture this: you leave Case-Geyer Library at midnight, you’re haggard, exhausted, battered down by the day, but as you head towards Donovan’s Pub to pick up your late-night order, you see the picture-perfect postcard of a scene. Snow flurries dance under the lamps that spill light across the surface of Taylor Lake. The air is cold and sharp and quiet. And at that moment you think: “I could get used to living like this.”