Rhode Island: the best place in the world to live


I was listening to one of those endless radio talk shows the other day while riding the University shuttle. The topic was: Is Rhode Island a good place to live? “Of course it is,” one of the participants said. “It’s great. I’m glad I live here. I mean, my god, the beaches are great!”



“That’s it?” another participant said.



“Well,” the first participant said, “there’s a lot of culture here, and music, and – um – beaches –“



“You know,” Participant Number Two said, “I’ve been hearing that for years. Culture? Probably you want Boston or New York. Music, probably LA or Seattle or New York. Beaches? You know, I would have said Hawaii.”



“But still!” Number One said. “It’s great for so many reasons!”



“Like the beaches?” said Number Two in a bored voice.



And on like that for some time.



I didn’t know what to think when I first moved to Rhode Island. I remember walking downtown on a cloudy weekend in early September 1978, and frankly the place looked like WWII Dresden: bombed-out and dismal. There were (and are) bright cheerful bits of architecture, and lovely bits of history, but much of the city is urban/gray/utilitarian.



There have been (many) ups and downs since then. Downtown (we call it “Downcity”) keeps getting “revived,” and then gets “revived” again. We are between revivals right now. There are a few positive signs: the Arcade, one of the oldest and most historic buildings downtown, is getting another facelift. (This is its third facelift in thirty years. Maybe this one will do the trick.)



I’ve said it before: Providence (and, by extension, all of Rhode Island) is a big ugly dog. You love it even though it slobbers all over you. In fact, you love it because it slobbers all over you.



Also, there are those beaches.



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

3 Responses to Rhode Island: the best place in the world to live

  1. starproms says:

    I know how you feel Loren. I’ve heard all sorts of ugly things said about the place where I live but where you live is more of an attitude of mind, like holidays (vacations). You have to make the best of where you are and try and improve it in some small way (like not dropping litter for example). I’ve also known plenty of people who live in beautiful places who are not happy!

    • Too true. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, which is beautiful from beginning to end, and it’s chock-full of unhappy people. “It’s pretty,” someone I knew said once, “but you can’t eat pretty.” Providence is dull and grimy, but it has a few bright spots, and it’s loveable in its own peculiar way. I’ve been here for almost exactly 34 years today; I must be moderately happy here . . .

      • starproms says:

        I always reckon that if I can be happy here in the place where I live in England, then it can’t be too bad. It was once voted the worst town in England. Can you believe that! The trouble is it was once one of the best towns in England, elegant, Victorian grandeur, but then then the 60’s came along. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the 60’s, but it did for my town. Everything changed, mainly the architecture and the immigrants. By the way, I’ve got nothing against immigrants, so long as there aren’t too many of them. The face of the town changed and now it is unrecognisable. However, it has a wonderful airport, a very lively culture with many ethnics bringing their own colour to the town and it is only 25 minutes travel from the centre of London. Just recently we have acquired a brand new swimming pool, built to Olympic standards. I could go on and on. Life is what you make of it, isn’t it!!!

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