I've been in this town since 1997. Some friends who have left, return, and get all nostalgic about the place, and then utter the words, "yeah, but Kutztown isn't real life," or "Kutztown isn't reality." Usually it's after a few drinks at the local tavern they used to enjoy regularly but can't anymore, and usually it comes along with a smug little grin.
I usually nod and smile, one of the few things I won't get into an argument over, but I have pondered that sentiment from time to time, and I'm going to try to make peace with it.
First, I get a little confused at the term "real life" or "reality." What does it mean? Who determines what's legit and what's not? I don't think they intend to insult, but what's being said, really, is, you don't live in reality. Something a parent might tell a teenager.
Why is it fantasy land?
Well, the town is a magical place, and when the fog sets in, it can appear to be a fantasy of sorts (you can almost see unicorns and sprites ~ if you will), but, aside from that, all of my friends responsibly hold jobs, some, a lot, even have families. I know there's good and friendly bars around here, but you can find that in most places if you give it time. People work together, and gather more, and play wiffle ball and have bands and endeavors, I don't know. On the weekends, some like to spend a lot of time drinking and enjoying the afternoon. What's the problem? These are all choices and preferences and because it doesn't fit into one person's sense of the real world based on what outside influences have told them doesn't make it anything less.
At the heart of it, I think some who ask such preposterous questions, deep inside, probably regret that they feel forced into something they don't really want and are too weak to refuse it. I understand if the town has gotten old, that's natural, move on to something else. (I even, at times think of moving, but not because it's a fairy tale.)
But, to say this place is less reality based than the "righteous" area they've selected is just narrow-minded.
People live in this town for lots of reasons and for me it has nothing to do with nostalgic warm feelings about the university as my social life was pretty quiet/lame during those years. I think a lot of us stay here cause of the support, warmth, and the lack of bullshit you have to put up with.
Mainly, you (or at least I) don't feel trapped in this space. There's a sense you can do what you want, and feel safe about it and in most cases get supported.