Manchester VT: Outside Looking In

I met up with my mom yesterday on my way home from Middlebury for Thanksgiving Break. We planned to meet in Manchester VT, right on my route and only a 45 minute drive for her. It’s funny that I’ve been driving up and down VT for three years now and had never stopped in Manchester before yesterday. But after spending a few hours there shopping for a couple items on my desperately-overdue-purchases-to-make list and grabbing lunch, I was able to see why it didn’t have much appeal to me. Manchester is an anomaly; more shops per capita than any other town in VT, an unnatural coalition of wealth. But though it is located right in the middle of southern VT, it doesn’t feel like VT. I suppose people have said that about Middlebury, too, but at least we have a college that brings the place together; Manchester only has its shops. I sound critical because as I drove into Manchester along Route 30, I couldn’t help but notice all of the rundown houses and beat-up old cars and trucks. The disparity between the Armani Outlet Shop and the trailer home five minutes away was striking. At first I joked about the houses–what could these people possibly to do make any money? But then I thought about where I live, and how I can find rundown houses in the town over, and realized that maybe the people in the towns outside Manchester resent the materialistic world of tourists and outlets. Maybe they would rather live in their modest homes than shop in the Manchester stores. Maybe they are the truest Vermonters, no matter how much money they make.

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