Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Little Town

The image of the small town is ubiquitous in songs and literature, they are fodder for nostalgia of things real and imagined. Bruce Springsteen wrote about his Hometown, John Mellencamp wrote of his Small Town, of living in it and even dying in it. Even Paul Simon sang about his (my) Little Town.

I have had the good fortune of living in 2 small towns, the one I was raised in and the one I live in now. I spent 15 years in cities in between and maybe that is why I can appreciate the small town experience, because it is familiar to me and I have something else to compare it to.

My car broke down the other day in the post office parking lot in Everson, my little town. I was on my way home from a glorious walk along edge of the Nooksack with the dog and my dear friend Rio. I didn’t panic or fret even for a second. I called my mechanic, Brandon and told him what had happened and he said he’d be right over. Only five minutes passed before he arrived and we got the car started in short order. We drove back to his shop where he lent me the shop truck so I could get home and back to work. I often wave at this same truck when I pass it on the road, never sure who’s driving it as it’s sort of become the community truck.

Growing up I experienced a sort of celebrity being the youngest of four children of one of the only doctors in town and was well known and liked. People knew us, all of us and in some respects that can be a burden but in other ways it’s comforting. You never need to tell your story, everyone already knows it. We had a reputation to live up to as the offspring of a respected member of the community. It kept us on the straight and narrow to some extent, respectful of the delicate social order of small town life.

Coming to a small town as an adult is a different experience. I have had to get to know people and find the places where I fit in. For me it has happened naturally over time in light conversations that get struck up at the grocery store check out. Time passes and you realize that you suddenly know a lot about the cashiers and then you realize how you look forward to those little interactions, there is warmth to them. The same goes for the library, feed store, dentist office. I was in the library recently siphoning off the high speed internet connection feeling a bit overwhelmed because I thought my state taxes were over due. I felt a tap on my shoulder and there stood my affable accountant. He asked if I was going to stop over and see him soon and I said I thought I had missed the date and spewed some expletives. He reassured me I still had time. This could only happen in a small town.

I have lived in my little town for 15 years now. It’s the most time I have lived anywhere in my life and I am feeling the results of the roots that I have put down. When I drive the roads between my house and town I relish the familiarity of the physical landscape and it’s population, we share the same experiences. They have seen Pearl grow up from a baby being pushed in her red jogger to a tween riding her bike along the road as I walk my daily circuit. The people we encounter in the grocery store, library, and at school functions are our friends and we share their sadness and joy as if it were our own because in a way they are.

I think Paul Simon was wrong when he said “nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town”. In my little town there is an abundance of life, there are the old and the young, some of us are building a strong foundation to head out into the bigger world, some of us have come home from years away to settle down and start new lives. It’s the authenticity of it that I cherish the most.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It