”Is she becoming Amish?”
I cannot count how many times people have uttered the word Amish since I announced my move to Lancaster back in September. These conversations normally forewarned that I was headed for “Amish country.” My grandmother, however, directly inquired of my dad whether her oldest granddaughter was in fact, turning Amish.
Those who know me are fully aware that I enjoy using my laptop far too much to consider the life of an Amish woman. I did see a courting buggy with an Amish couple one Sunday in late autumn. There are many selling homebaked goods in Central Market. Lancaster county, Pennsylvania does have a multitude of Amish and certainly deserves its title.
Contrarily, Lancaster city is similar to any urban area, though much smaller than many of its surrounding cities.
This is where I live, a short 15-minute walk from downtown. I share a two-bedroom townhouse apartment, complete with bathroom, kitchen, living room and closets. Rent is significantly less than what I would pay in New York for a studio and I can still easily get there by train, car, bus or flight (as I proved the weekend before Christmas.)
I’ve heard numerous times that Lancaster city has only come into its own over the last five years. It is now a vibrant, booming area that still holds the sense of community I found in Cork and Springfield. There’s a diverse population; the Hispanic ratio is seemingly equivalent to the whites, as written in a June LNP article. My coworker is from Brazil. Friends at church are Kenyan, Cameroonian and Tanzanian. A large number are transplants, usually from the Philly area, but there’s also a greater amount that are Lancaster homegrown.
As the evening traffic indicates, many do drive. Still, quite a few walk, take the bus, hop on a train, bike or strap on their jetpacks (okay, so the latter is wishful thinking. Weren’t we theoretically supposed to have the option by this point?)
I love Lancaster, I really do. It’s even better than I imagined. Restaurants aren’t open nearly as late as Manhattan, of course, but there is a wide variety. Although I rarely order takeout, I have looked into menus. In addition to the usual pizza and Chinese, there’s Asian fusion, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian and subs, just to name a few. A Mongolian barbecue sits downtown, as does an Irish pub. There are a number of cafés, including an Italian pasticceria. First Friday is held monthly. There’s also an array of colorful shops (in particular, check out Lush Bazaar. Tell Timbrel that April sent you.) Additionally, I am in love with the Franklin & Marshall campus, especially in its full autumn foliage.
The city, later named in tribute to Lancaster, England, was first founded by those German immigrants known as the Pennsylvania Dutch in 1709. It served as the capital of the colonies for a day in September 1777 and as an important munitions center in the Revolutionary War. Additionally, it was Pennsylvania’s capital from 1799 to 1812. Signs throughout the city, including etchings on the downtown clock, note that Lancaster was established in 1730. Its cemeteries hold their own history, such as the grave of Pennsylvania’s only president: James Buchanan.
Certain people voiced concerns about my ability to find employment. Lancaster held a job fair the week I arrived; an offer came through one of the local temp agencies in two. When that ended abruptly only five days later, I applied for other jobs and temp agencies. As of almost a month ago, I now work in centralized scheduling for the local hospital through Tristarr and earn a paycheck greater than any of my positions thus far.
History is all around me. It’s an hour’s drive to Philly, about the same to Gettysburg. Lancaster plays its own part in the American Revolution. DC, Boston, Baltimore, New Jersey - they’re all within reach. And when I really get a holiday, I can hop the train to Philly, NYC, Newark, Boston or DC and jet off to Europe. (If not this summer, maybe next.)
During New Year’s Eve of 2017, I was under my mom’s roof again after the best experience of my life. A new job would come in February, working as a receptionist at Preferred until April with a fantastic group of people. I never imagined I would work in law, just as I never saw myself in healthcare, but that’s what happened. At the PA’s office, I was again part of a wonderful team, just as I am at Lancaster General. Since September, I have served as phone rep for both days of the election and acquired a two-day stint as the receptionist for the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce. I currently converse with patients about mammos, dexas, labs and ultrasounds of the breast (copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket are someone else’s discussion.) I am also attending a church I love, which has led me to several new friends and a terrific pastor who reminds me of the ones I reluctantly left behind.
Oh, and there was that time I attended the Ren Faire.
I’m uncertain what will happen in the new year, but I do know one thing.
I definitely made the right decision.
Many blessings to you and yours in 2019!
A p r i l D a w n
Writer and video editor with a passion for history, culture, food. Often seen creating pictorial etchings. Music blogger for Dreaming Human. Past writings can be found in the Cork Independent and on the website magazine Forever Twenty Somethings.