A few months ago I snapped a picture of the New York skyline from the kitchen window of my best friend's Upper East Side apartment.
I tweeted it. I Facebooked it. I let my whole social media world know I was spending a few days in the Big Apple. My message was very clear -- I'm here. It's big. It's beautiful.
Then in December, we switched roles. My best friend and another friend of ours from Chicago took a trip to Quincy. Despite the lack of national monuments and historic sites, they started taking pictures just like I had in New York.
It started with my apartment. My pint-sized bungalow was about the same size as the apartment my best friend shared with two others in that high-rise in New York. She and her roommates had taken a room the size of my living room and converted it into a small sitting space and two bedrooms. The friend from Chicago marveled at my bathroom. Apparently his knees rub up against the wall when he sits on his toilet. Both pay double, if not triple, what I pay in rent.
The marveling continued as I drove them down Maine Street. This time they focused on the well-kept houses and the large front yards. We joked about how one of them had ruined a bathtub by completing a spray painting project in the bathroom. Here, I have plenty of yard space for painting.
Two appetizers, three entrees, six adult beverages and less than $60 later, they were snapping pictures of our tab. I remembered sitting at a hole-in-the-wall bar in New York and staring wide-eyed at a $250 tab for a table of four. The big city skyline came with a price tag. That night in New York we took a cab back to the Upper East Side for another $50. The eight-block walk back here was doable on a warm winter night. We didn't have to hop trains or buses. Our evening was easy, and they noticed.
Their social media message about Quincy was just as clear as mine had been about New York: We're here. This may be small, but it's beautiful.
Halfway through the evening my best friend looked at me and said, "You told me this place was nice. You didn't tell me it was this nice."
Both were just as dazzled with Quincy as I was when I first came here.
There's a sign at the Adams County line on I-172 that says "Life is Good." Life doesn't need to be big to be beautiful.