I have lived in Vermont for roughly seven years since I moved from Houston, Texas to Rutland (yeah, “ooooooooof” I know). In my time here, I’ve noticed that Vermonters see themselves as a particularly unique breed, and in many ways they are, but they may share more similarities than they realize with their fellow Americans.
You’ve probably heard the comparisons between Vermonters and Californians; they smoke the same amount of weed but diverge in the temperature of water they prefer to board on.
If we compare certain parts of Alabama to our own Danby, Vermont, we’ll see generations of uninterrupted white blood maintained through oedipal family trees (and of course, racism). Upstate New York and Rutland, Vermont have worlds in common: implicit and explicit prejudices, Stewart’s for some reason sells gas and ice cream(?), shitty box house after shitty box house, drugs but not the fun kind more of the Ruin Your Life kind, the looming fear you’ll never get to leave. These are the key ingredients.
Unsurprisingly, New England’s states hold the most resemblance to Vermont’s towns. From the verdant mountains and syrup of New Hampshire and Vermont to Rhode Island’s size and forgettable quality. Hell, even Massachusetts reminds me of Vermont in terms of that tension between neighbors that screams “LEAVE ME ALONE IF YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW ME.” If you’ve spent enough time in New England, driving through Vermont probably smacks you with a sense of deja vu.
Our beloved Burly seems appropriate to begin with. Burlington reminds me the most of Maine; first and foremost just because it’s groovy like Portland is. We all see it, reflected in the green way of life but emphasized by the cool peeps who keep our city working wonderfully. We should definitely keep in mind that there is also a danger of infestation by the old “groovier than thou” type, found not only in Burly but in Brattleboro. Here you can find just as many crystal shops and the co-op is arguably wayyy better. In all of these places, we also have tourists who like to come watch us be “whimsical” like we’re animals in zoos. This brings about another characteristic that Vermont and Maine share: hatred for the tourists who fuel our economies. If you’re like me, living in Vermont but not a fan of skiing, winter is a curse not just because of the roads but because every restaurant you’ve ever loved will be booked solid for months. Understandably, for every leaf peeper that exists, there is also a person yelling “whaT THE FUCK, FUCK YOU!” when they inevitably block traffic by pulling over to take a picture of the pretty colors on the mountain!
Because I addressed the best parts of Vermont, it only seems fair that I get to address what I consider the worst. First, in a flimsy comparison to Connecticut it feels important to bring up the corporatized and commercialized quaintness of places like Stowe and Manchester. It’s visible in the mini Stratton town and the way that all of Manchester’s shops look the same. We’re being spoon-fed our own stereotypes. On the opposite hand, there are some towns who never really made it past like 2009, their concrete tackiness is so well advertised you may think it akin to a lot of what you’ve seen on Jersey Shore.
Maybe this speaks to the fact that nobody, nor any place are really as different from us as we may perceive them to be. This assortment of people, places, and practices might lead you to believe that Vermont is a melting pot, and in some ways it is, but it’s pretty clearly queso blanco up in here.
Categories: eliza ligon, reflections