I moved to Lancaster about five months ago. What brought me to the area was my fiancé Justin. First, I fell in love with him, and then I fell in love with Lancaster County.
Previously, I had two experiences in Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia airport. A few of my family members and friends, including myself, assumed most of the state was big cities filled with factories and industry. We were wrong.
Back home in Alabama, where I grew up, your neighbor isn’t across the street or in your backyard. My family has more than 60 acres of land, so our neighbors were located across the street, down the long and dusty driveway, past a barbed-wire pasture or two, where you will find their house located behind a few pine or magnolia trees. I wouldn’t say moving to Lancaster was a culture shock, because there are some similarities, but there are also some differences.
For instance, I attended elementary and high school in a one-red-light town. The town’s amenities were located on one side of the highway because it was divided by railroad tracks. In Lancaster, the small town appeal is vibrant and has an Americana vibe throughout the county’s boroughs, which brings up another topic. In Alabama, we have cities and towns. In Pennsylvania, you have cities, towns, townships, boroughs and census-designated places. One minute I’m in Marietta, then I blink and suddenly I’m in Maytown.
I have found that Lancaster brings in tourists due in part to the Amish community. We don’t have a large Amish population in Alabama. In fact, as a child I remember my family taking a Sunday afternoon drive to an Amish community in Tennessee, but not in the Heart of Dixie. However, it was a normal occurrence to be stuck behind a tractor on a country road driving between 5 and 10 mph or for your neighbors’ livestock to bust loose and end up in the middle of the road.
I also had a traumatic, first-time experience driving in snow. In Alabama, most people have 4-wheel drive to haul equipment or to go muddin’. In the North, yep, you guessed it … it’s because of the cold, white stuff that falls from the heavens. We may have hot, humid summers in ‘Bama, but PA’s winter months are nothing to joke about. Also, I may have discovered the secret to staying warm here and can sum it up in one word: layers!
The area does boast breathtaking views of the river and countryside. The towns have personalized signatures on their eclectic shops and eateries. And, I’ve never lived in a place that has as many expos, festivals and exhibits as Lancaster; there is something grand going on every weekend. You pour your heart into your heritage and make it come alive through art, music, dance and various shows. I love Lancaster, and those are just a few of the many reasons why.