Rediscovering My Hometown, Rhode Island

A while back I wrote how I think most folks are bad tourists in their own hometown. I plead guilty. There’s so much to see and do here in New England – in Providence and Rhode Island included. Yet I gloss over most of it with the dismissive thought that it’ll always be there. What’s the hurry? I can see it tomorrow, right? But why should my hometown be any less interesting or exotic simply because it’s geographically closer to me than the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat or the Pyramids? So, starting today I’m making a concerted effort to rediscover my hometown.

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For the past two years, I’ve pared down all of my daily expenses – Starbucks coffee, my Martha Stewart Living subscription, etc. Sure, I could find a $200 per month room to rent in one of the many student accommodations (read: closets) near RISD or Brown. But I decided that I want to spend my last eighteen months really loving where I live. So last October, K and I moved into an incredible condo in northern Rhode Island, about ten minutes north of Providence.

Blackstone River

Today, the cold spring weather finally broke. It’s almost seventy degrees for the first time in seven months. With a cool, crisp breeze, it may as well be early July. From a picnic table out back of our building, I’m quietly watching the Blackstone River – its waters engorged from a week of steady rain – float quietly by. It’s truly beautiful. Our condo sits directly on the river and a public bike path bearing its name that both stretch much of the length of the entire state of Rhode Island. People drive from all over the state to see this and it’s only fifty feet from my back door. It’s taken me six months to sit at this picnic table, to discover my own backyard. I rarely see anyone else – the other bad tourists – out here either. I suppose they’re all working this weekend or quietly reading a book, sheltered indoors, subconsciously telling themselves that this picnic table and the river view they see every day on their way to work will be there tomorrow.

Travel for me is partly about dismissing that naive notion. My trip may seem like a lifetime away, but I can start it today. In my own backyard. Because the truth is that it may not be here tomorrow.

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