Anecdote: Yesterday people from church picked us up as usual. There were six of us in the car, and after replying to hospitable inquiries about Ian’s and my summer we fell silent. The rest of the group proceeded to discuss Andy’s bike, which had been stolen, and what kind of new bike he needed.

“I really need a 21-speed,” Andy said, “to be able to get around.”

“Yeah, a 10-speed just doesn’t work that well around here.” The other man, Cowboy, agreed.

I thought about that briefly, then chimed in: “What would you need a 21-speed bike for around here? There aren’t any hills.”

General laughter, and a reply that “Worcester is known as the City of Seven Hills!” and wasn’t I amusing being sarcastic like that.

Of course, I wasn’t being sarcastic because I only know of two hills in all of Worcester that might warrant needing to downshift lower than a 10-speed bike would allow. Fresh from the Rachel Lake hike Dad and I did, and from walking up Norway Hill and Finn Hill around home, and the hill up to the Fergusons’ house, truly there aren’t any hills worth mentioning around here. Yes, you might get a little out of breath riding up one, but we’re not talking serious hills and certainly no necessity for a mountain bike’s capabilities. I didn’t say any of that, however, choosing to remain silent and let them think I had just made a joke. What good would it do to denigrate their little hills?

The difference in thinking strikes at odd times around here. It’s moments like those that make me realize I wasn’t born around here and I don’t think like Easterners; I belong in the West, where hills are serious and mountains real. Home sometimes can feel very far away even as I live in the only apartment Ian and I have ever had together. The Cascades have stolen my heart.

– KF –

2 thoughts on “Culture Shock Strikes Again

  1. We have serious mountains and hills, just don’t look in Worcester. There are some streets off of Main that I would want a 21 speed riding up/down, the ones where I’ve blow’d up my transmission even on cool days.

  2. Katie, get this: the highest point in Rhode Island is at 700 feet, and it’s in somebody’s backyard! They open their yard a couple times a year to people who want to experience this extreme height (even though it’s only about 5 feet higher than the road in front). After climbing Mt. Elbert at 14,443 feet, my friend Matthew vowed that he would return to his home state, Rhode Island, and visit this highest point.

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