A New Place, New Town

There are not many places in Williamsburg that I have not been since I have lived here for a few years and had a job that took me into many areas. But the one place I have not been to is ironically a place that many people who are visitors to Williamsburg probably visit and that is to New Town.
There are a few reasons why I have not been there. One reason is that I don’t live here any longer and I do most of my shopping in the town I presently live in. Other reasons that I have not been there are economic and political reasons. Since I am a poor college student for now, I only shop for items of necessity. If it isn’t a need, then I do without it. New Town is an outdoor mall of specialty, and probably overpriced stores. Exquisite chocolates, trendy clothing, and cigars are not on my list of must- haves so I have seen no reason to go. Being a student leaves me no time for movies which is another reason that I have not been there.
Another reason for not going there or to other mega-shopping centers is a philosophical political reason. George Ritzer, a leading sociological critic of globalization, calls mega-shopping centers “palaces of consumption”. I have joined the less is more crowd and shun the idea that I have to have a lot of things. And if I need things, I first try to find in at my local thrift store or reasonably priced somewhere else preferably a local small family owned business. So it is not that I haven’t been there because I feel uncomfortable or out of place, but due to personal decisions.
The whole area had a very pristine but daunting appearance to me. There was a hardness and coldness to the area with a lot of hard planed surfaces, glass windows, the buildings themselves and the pavement. Like much of Williamsburg, New Town has a very manicured look and I wonder is someone would come immediately if I were to drop a piece of paper and sweep it up. I would have liked it better if there were more plants to soften the hard edges and maybe there are more plants and greenery in the spring.
Those that use the area are probably middle- and upper- middle- class people which tend to be the people that are drawn to high-price brands and specialty stores. Everyone I saw there was white and middle class. I also saw a few retired couples walking around and window shopping.
I consider what I would do in a place that I felt uncomfortable. Though I did not feel uncomfortable in New Town, I am daily in places that do make me feel uncomfortable and I am very aware of my “differentness”. What is it about a place that makes me feel uncomfortable? A feeling of being out of place and of not fitting in is the main reason for feeling uncomfortable. Then the question is what I do with the feelings of discomfort. I daily feel a level of discomfort when I am at school. I feel out of place due to my age and level of intelligence as compared to the traditional students. This causes me some uncomfortable out of place feelings, but I tend to suppress the feeling s and carry on with what I need to do.


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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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