Growing up in this town, I’ve noticed a generational divide between opinions on living in Pawling. While adults tend to appreciate the tight-knit community and the “we’re all in this together” atmosphere, teens are often complaining that there’s not enough to do. While everyone has his or her own take on the matter, there’s one thing that makes us all unqualified to judge our little town: we still live here. Since we’re seeing the proverbial forest for the trees, we’d all do well to hear what ex-Pawlingites have to say about our community.
Sara Yurt, a young woman who moved to Bodrum, Turkey a couple of years ago, can help give us locals a bit of perspective.
Sara moved to Pawling from a town in upstate New York when she was twelve. She graduated from Pawling High School at the age of eighteen, and then took off to her native soil. She hasn’t been able to return to the States since.
Even though she had known all along that she was destined to head back to Turkey, Sara remembers that moving away “from a place I’d grown to love was very difficult, not to mention scary.” She describes the experience as one of the toughest things she’s been through, and understandably so!
“To move away to a completely different region of the world was terrifying,” she recalls. When Sara looks back on her time here, she remembers our community fondly. For her, nothing can replace upstate New York’s “geographical eye-candy.” Unlike many people her age, Sara holds that “small town life is just lovely,” so “living in Pawling for six years was wonderful!” There’s certainly merit to her argument – Pawling, cradled between the mountains of the Hudson Valley, containing a healthy section of the Appalachian Trail, and home to the ecologically-rich Great Swamp, is a nature-lover’s dream come true.
But Pawling’s landscape is only half of what Sara had to leave behind. She mentions that “the two things I miss the most are our property and my friends.” This town’s colorful cast of characters is another aspect that we tend to take for granted. Relationships are forged here that probably wouldn’t be possible in an urban setting, where getting to know neighbors and local business owners is not as much of an option.
Life is very different for Sara in Turkey. For one, she occasionally encounters misconceptions about the good old U.S. of A. “For many of the Europeans and Turks I meet in this country,” explains Sara, “the concept of the American small town is one of fascination and mystery… they think I come from the Wild West!”
Making the transition to this new part of the world also came with a lot of cultural adjustments. Sara says that she doesn’t know where to begin when discussing the differences, but she names language, architecture, and social interactions as a few.
Although Sara is now happily situated in Bodrum, Pawling has not left her heart. She implores current residents to appreciate our home for what it is – welcoming, dynamic, and teeming with history and nature.
“The town itself remains sweetly quaint in my memory,” Sara states confidently, “and will always be one of the places I talk up to people.”
Just for fun, Sara has agreed to teach us a phrase in Turkish: “The Turkish language is full of little metaphorical expressions, and here’s a favorite. “Üzüm üzüme baka baka kararır.” Literally, this translates to: “When the grape looks at another grape, it makes it turn black (ripen).” This means, very simply, if two individuals spend enough time with one another, they begin to influence the others behavior.