Voting with your feet

I was born in Norwich, NY. At the time, in 1988, we lived in Oxford but moved to Norwich when I was just a little one. If asked, Norwich is my hometown. Chenango County is very scenic and is home to some of the most beautiful rolling hills I've seen. Not much beats an afternoon wandering around the stone quarry or some other lesser known spot with some pretty stellar views. Norwich is home.

Now, the old adage is “home is where the heart is,” right? Well if that's the case – and if I'm ignoring the dictionary definition that it is the place in which I hold my permanent residence, then I have many homes. My car, for instance, is near and dear to me. I can get from place to place, sleep in it if I feel so inclined or have the need, or I suppose just sit in there and hang out if I want ... maybe have a snack.

Buffalo, where I attended college, also holds a spot in my heart. Pulling in just gives me that, “Oh hey, I'm back,” cozy vibe. It's nice, but nowhere I'd want to live forever. Of course, “second homes” count too, those being the homes of my best friends, who are always around and even make me dinner, like “real adults” do when they visit one another. That's homey and comfy as well.

Home is comfy. This home was comfy.

I often hear both sides of situations in Norwich. Folks love it or they hate it. Many equate Norwich to an addiction to drugs; you know you need to just stop. Get out. Move on. But there's that little bit of something drawing you back.

Others have worked hard to build a life in this area, take pride in what they've accomplished, and are thrilled to be in such a “tight knit” community. If that's where you stand, good for you. I'm not here to bash your successes, merely to point out not everyone feels the same.

I enjoy freedom. Be it the “little” things or the “big issues” - I think I'm pretty competent to make my own decisions. It's pretty simple really; don't hurt anyone, don't take things that aren't yours … you know the spiel, I've said it before. I don't think someone needs permission from the government for a four-year-old to sell some lemonade.

There is something called the “Freedom in the 50 States” index, where the states are ranked by fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom (gun control, marriage policy, victimless crime policy, education policy and the like). Lo and behold, NY is number 50 – and this is not the type of thing where the state with the highest score wins.

According to this report, 9 percent of the NY state population left the state for another between 2000 and 2011. That's quite a bit if you ask me.

Whether or not these people were lifelong residents of NY, I don't know, but what I believe is that this shows people are waking up a little bit, to what life is facing us in this area. My wild guess, too, is these were younger folks.

I hear often, “Just vote him (or her) out the next election,” whether you’re talking about Gov. Cuomo, a local elected official, board member, or the like.

You know what I think makes a pretty large impact? Voting with your feet. Perhaps that's what those 9 percent were doing when they opted to leave NY.

Again, I love Norwich. I love my home. I just have no problem expanding my home-base.

I spent this weekend in New Hampshire, currently number 4 on the aforementioned index. Don't want to wear your seat-belt? Okay. You'd like to carry a firearm? Go ahead. Car insurance? Optional (although 89 percent opt for it). Sales tax and state income tax? None. Same-sex marriage? Sure. After all, the state's motto is “Live free or die,” right?

Saturday evening while in NH I found myself driving on State Highway 12, a road rather similar to Chenango County's Route 12. The sun was going down, I had both the AC on and my windows down (the only proper way), and my music loud. It was perfect. It was comfy and right. It felt like home. I felt relaxed, happy and free. I felt at home.

I'm not trying to outright bash the county (or city, if you're a Norwich resident) we live in. Like I said, I love it here. It'll always be home. But for those folks I hear say how bad it is here … there are options. There are places you can go where you can be welcomed for who you are, and allowed to live without many of the completely unnecessary restrictions and regulations existing here in NY.

One of my majors in college was Chemical Dependency Counseling. If you're one of those folks who equates your relationship with Norwich to a drug … get out. If you think it's bad for you, it is. There are places where you can thrive. If you're young and not tied down, go for it. Catch a plane, hop on a bus, get in your car – whatever. Save a little cash and go exploring; find that place where you feel comfy and at home. I guarantee Norwich isn’t the only place that will give you the vibes you’re looking for.

However, if you’re not one to vote with your feet, that’s OK too. There are ways to peaceably create change within this area if people are willing to work toward it.

It sure would be nice for this home of mine to be comfy again.

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