The New York Senator, Gillibrand Kirsti, caused a bit of a controversy when she referred to Arlington, Virgina as “a soulless suburb.” She did so in her own book, so she couldn’t claim she was misquoted. Many people talk about Zürich as Europe’s most boring city. Robert Doyle, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, told a newspaper that “Adelaide has so little going for it that’s it sould be shut down.”
Most Norwegian cities have probably had similar accusations directed against them. A small town like Haugesund (population 36 000) is particularly vulnerable to those kinds of accusations. I saw a news report on a small local TV station a few weeks ago when the college started the new school year. This college has maritime subjects among others, and the channel interviewed a man from Latvia that was studying something in shipping. He had previously studied in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and was probably a bit skeptical to tiny Haugesund.
For someone who loves the really big cities, it is hardly satisfactory to stay in Haugesund, but at he same time it’s an advantage to have something for everyone. The metropolitans among us are welcome to move out of the country where they can find the metropoles, but there is a reason why many people live in small towns, and those that move to the big cities, live mostly in the suburbs. We need some of the boring stuff. That’s what makes life stable.
There are certainly a lot of exciting cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, London, but you probably won’t move to the inner city or downtown area if you want a peaceful, predictable life where your kids can feel safe. You don’t move centrally if you want an affordable apartment or low crime rate either. Then you would actually prefer boring. Many people in my hometown feel that they have an urban lifestyle, and I think they’re right in some areas, but urban dwellers notwithstanding, our interests are probably more popular (country rather than folk music, revue and old classics rather than contemporary plays, Idol rather than oepra etc) than we like to think. I’m saying this because there is a tendency to see people from neighbouring municipalities as simple peasants, but a quick glance at the theater and concert program here, shows that the snobs among us are wrong.
But that’s okay. We live in Haugesund, but can easily visit larger cities like Stavanger, Bergen and Oslo when we wish to experience something else. What Haugesund can offer are residents, culture (especially in terms of a coastal heritage), different types of nature and a stable life. That alone isn’t bad. I just shake my head when I hear people say that specific towns are boring, that they don’t have anything to offer. It depends on what you want. There are plenty of things I want my hometown to become better at, but maybe we should be satisfied with what we allready have, a stable home to 36,000 people. Haugesund might be just as boring as a suburb, but boring isn’t necessarily bad. Boring can be good and we all need the good boring. One of my favourites on the list of the boring I need is less stress.
I’m not so concerned about whether the cafe I go to make themselves look sexy by offering a hundred varieties of coffee and names I can’t pronounce. I have been to some places like that, and it felt like I was in the wrong place: