I’m experiencing an intense attack of provincialism that manifests itself in a fear of traveling to Montréal in August with N and the six-month-old baby. I used to be such a big city person, and now I’m afraid of traffic, crowds, and sounds. Beware of moving to the provinces, people. They will eat your soul.

9 thoughts on “Provincialism

  1. Perhaps big cities are all overwhelming, I find them to be, anyway, but I go to them when necessary, and then I do get into being there because I know it’s not permanent.


  2. This is a great topic! I thing several things are at play, especially for immigrants. Perhaps provincialism is not the right word, really.

    I have spent my youth in a big city, constantly riding on overcrowded public transport. I think I have smelled enough unwashed pits for five lifetimes. Whenever we would travel anywhere, we’d always stay with friends or relatives. Rooms and beds would always have to be shared. I constantly had to me mindful of the neighbors and not make too much noise. Other people were always around and had to be considered, all the time.

    One of the best things about living like I do now (big house, lots of space) is how calm and comfortable I feel. I love driving, it’s one of my favorite things to do. If I never ride public transport again, I am okay with that. When I travel, I thankfully have enough money to never have to stay with anyone and can go to a hotel and have my space. (A colleague recently offered that I stay with his family at an upcoming conference. I just can’t. That’s too much togetherness. I need to be able to go to a hotel room and unwind.)

    I don’t think I am necessarily more provincial as much as I am a curmudgeon. I still enjoy theater and concerts as much as ever, probably more than before because now with kids it’s always such a treat to go out. Mostly, I never knew how much I needed space and how much the perpetual intrusion of other people in a big city really bugged me until I got some space. Now that I know what it feels like to have space and to be left alone, I just can’t take the crowds any more. (Air travel also really bugs me because it’s so uncomfortable and we are packed tightly like sardines. I have traveled extensively all my life, so travel logistics don’t faze me; it’s mostly all the darn people.) I think I am also getting more introverted with age, in that time around people exhausts me much more than it used to even when I enjoy it (e.g. interaction with students in my classes).


    1. This is a great comment. My husband suggested trying Airbnb, but even that is getting too close to other people’s lives for me. Even though the owners wouldn’t be there, I’d still get to witness a part of their lives and I just don’t need that right now. So what you say definitely resonates with me.


  3. Having a baby makes one much more cautious in environments in which there are risks. Plus the stroller and diaper bag make one less mobile/agile. That’s simply being realistic.

    You haven’t been where you are long enough for corrosion to start. However, stay too long and it will.


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