I don’t like motels. But lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in them, as our airplane and helicopter venture hither and yon. Last weekend I spent two miserable days in a motel in Livingston, Alabama – which is about as far out in the middle of nowhere as you can get. Couple of days later it was another overnight in Birmingham, Alabama. Last night it was a motel in Latrobe, Pennsylvania where today our passengers are playing a round of golf with some guy named Arnold Palmer. (I hear he’s an avid pilot, but he may have some other claim to fame as well.)
Latrobe…which they seem to pronounce LAY-trobe is an interesting place. It’s pretty. I initially thought it was out in the boonies, but it turns out that Pittsburgh is only about 40 miles to the west. And while the residents of Latrobe probably think they live “out in the country,” it seems pretty crowded to me.
I grew up in New York City, but have been living in the south since 1987. A strange feeling comes over me when I come back north. It’s hard to explain. It is a subtle but palpable tightness of my gut and overall feeling of dread. I feel out of my element, like I don’t belong here.
I think it is the density of population that makes me uneasy. Things are much more crowded here in the north. Businesses are clumped together with little space between. Additionally, they are built close to the roadway, crammed into smaller lots, with commensurately small parking lots. Everywhere you look you see houses and buildings and people.
From a driver’s perspective, the roads are narrow, the lanes are narrow, and there are few turn lanes - not much space to get off the lane of traffic to turn into where you’re going. Drivers are more aggressive.
In the south things are more spread-out. There’s more room. It’s odd that I feel this way now, considering where I grew up. But being in the north just makes me claustrophobic. I could never live in “the north” again.
We’re supposed to leave LAYtrobe around 4:30 this afternoon, headed home. I’m looking forward to it.