Friday, April 25, 2014

Small Town Living

"I wish I could show you the little village where I was born.  It's so lovely there...I used to think it too small to spend a life in, but now I'm not so sure." - Mary Kelly

"Who you lookin' for
What is his name
you can prob'ly find him
at the football game
it's a small town
you know what I mean
it's a small town, son
and we all support the team."
- James McMurtry

The streets are quieter here.  There are no stoplights, only a handful of stop signs.  You can walk two blocks and be at the public library, one more and you're at the bank.  You can leave your house unlocked, garage door wide open, and not have to worry.  Your landlord is your brother's best friend from high school, and the guy cashing your check at the bank also taught you how to use a computer when you were in middle school.  The town revolves mostly around farming, basketball, and the annual Christmas get-together at the fire station uptown - nothing too exciting really happens here.  But you wouldn't live anywhere else.

Sometimes, when it's winter and it's snowing, you go outside to grab something from your car and are struck by the silence of the street - you think you can almost hear the snow falling, it's that quiet.  You go back inside feeling a little bit luckier than you had when you left the house.  The same is true during nights in the summer, when the only sound you can hear is the sizzle of your own grill and some faint voices from the neighbors' screened-in porch.

You can walk down the middle of Main Street, and...

even bust a move...

if that's something you're into.

Everyone knows your name, and though your husband is new to the area, they know his name, too.  You go into the bank, the post office, the gas station, the library - everyone personally greets you, asks after your family, your dog.  Maybe you wish sometimes you didn't know absolutely everyone (you're usually wearing sweats and your hair is always a mess), but you're always thankful.

When someone dies, the entire town (and probably the next town over, too) shows up for the funeral, armed with casseroles and pies.  If a storm is on its way, neighbors warn each other, offering extra flashlights or batteries; your heater broke last winter, and your neighbors invited you and your husband over to their place, where it was warm and they had hot chocolate.  Kids here grow up running a little wild, coming and going as they please.  Everyone eats at a diner called the Chit Chat Cafe every Sunday after church, where the Double Burger Platter has tasted exactly the same since the early 90s.  You graduated from a class of 40; you knew everyone's first and last name, and you even remember most of their birthdays.

I <3 my backyard!

The cost of living is dirt-cheap, even when compared to cities only 30 minutes away.   A neighbor across the street has an old, beat-up Eames chair sitting in his driveway - you've thought about asking for it several times; he probably doesn't even know what it is he's got.  You see a gorgeous antique bureau being loaded onto a Goodwill truck, and when you stop to ask about it, it's your best friend's sister's old boyfriend that's moving it - not only does he let you have it for free, but he drives it over to your dad's house for you and unloads it.

Main Street is always empty, or nearly so; you can walk right down the middle of the road most days and never see anyone driving.  Many of the businesses have closed, but when the hardware store was still thriving, you and your friends would go in and pick out candy, putting it on your dad's "tab", which he'd have to pay off later.  The librarian tells you not to worry about the fee for checking out movies; you'd get it next time.  There are no cops here, and when the cop from the next town makes a weekly visit, he knows your name and waves at you when you drive by.  The closest movie theater shows new movies every night for two bucks; you go every week.

You didn't used to love it here.  You curled your lip at the sleepiness of the town, dreamed of days when you'd leave for somewhere bigger and better.  But you've grown up, and you've decided that a small town suits you so much better than a big city.  You couldn't trade the silent streets and friendly people for big buildings and busy traffic.  This is where you belong.

Beautiful weather on a walk with Riley!


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