I used to understand government. When I was in college I took a government class, because I knew it would be an easy grade, since it’s a subject I really enjoyed and knew a lot about. Since moving to Pennsylvania, though, I have discovered that I don’t understand it all as much as I thought I did. Particularly in the area of governmental boundaries.
When I was growing up, I lived in a city, which was in a county, which was in a state, which was in a country. Easy, shmeasy! In Pennsylvania, however, it all gets more complicated. Currently, we live in a township. Now don’t misuderstand; there is no town, just a township. The township has no post office, zip code, or shopping. It doesn’t provide schools, water service or trash pick up. It does, of course, charge taxes. This place doesn’t show up on maps. Poeple living in the surrounding areas (like just a couple minutes’ drive from our house) have never heard of our township. This all pretty much boils down to the fact that we live in a township that exists, but isn’t there.
The next town over from us has an awesome downtown area, with trendy restaurants, art galleries, and shopping. It has a post office, it’s own zip code, and schools. It is not, however, a city or town. It is a borough. Or boro, depending on who you talk to. No one seems to know what the difference is in the spellings, by the way. Neither does anyone seem to know what makes it a borough rather than a town. It just is.
If we head in the opposite direction, we come to a village. We know when we get there, because there is a very pretty sign saying “Welcome to the Village of ___”. This village shows up on every map of the area, has tons of shopping, its own zip code and post office. This village, however, does not actually exist. When you are in this village you are actually in a town that is a few miles away. Our realtor explained this to us when we first met her. No one has been able to give me a good explanation as to why the village doesn’t exist when it’s there. I’m not sure what it means that it doesn’t exist, but I guess I’ll have to learn to accept the facts.
Then, of course, there are towns and villages that exist within townships: sometimes they will exist partly in one township and partly in another. I don’t know if that means the township doesn’t really exist, or the villages don’t really exist, or if maybe they all really exist, but only in parallel universes. None of this really affects me much, since there doesn’t seem to be a test you have to pass to do any of the day-to-day that comprise life. It sure makes me glad I’m done with civics classes, though!