Small Town, Small World

We just arrived back to the city after spending a week in my hometown.

I hadn’t missed that lifestyle so much before.

A big part of that was being around family and getting to share kid watching.  My brother and his wife drove out from the farm most of the week to visit.

It was nice to know almost every single person in the grocery store.  Even my grumpy old Social Studies teacher, who should have retired a few years before he taught me, was pleasant now that he could do what he really wanted: sit still.

When I ran into former classmates, we could talk.  Before, when I was in school, I would have been to shy to talk to these particular ones.  And maybe a little fearful and self-righteous too (they went to parties where people drank alcohol).  It was nice.

Working at my dad’s store was laid back too.  The few customers who came in to buy something (as opposed to just saying hi) didn’t even look annoyed that I had to restart the computer program to print their receipt.  No one was in a hurry.  One elderly gentleman even gave me a 10 cent tip.  Knowing him, that was a high compliment.

I loved walking with lil’T and her 3 year old cousin all the way across town to jump on someone’s trampoline.

Almost all the businesses are in a three block stretch so getting errands done is really fast.

There was a sense of community I was surprised to find.  In high school I felt distant from the town.  My real community was The Church.  Yet, having a geographical history was enough for these people to accept me.  Yes, the people from the churches I was involved with were very friendly as usual (I wonder how things would have changed if they knew of my apostasy?), but those people I had avoided also came out of their way to say hi.

Instead of feeling persecuted and rejected by these people, I felt accepted.  Perhaps they changed.  They are older and most of them now have kids.  They don’t lose social standing by saying hi to me.

Perhaps I changed.  I no longer assumed they would reject me or that we would have nothing in common.  I have more confidence so conversations aren’t so one-sided.

Perhaps both.

I came back to the city missing the feeling of belonging.  Then, our El Salvadorian neighbours invited us to a birthday party in their backyard.  It was full of family, friends and neighbours and food.

Not so different after all.

5 thoughts on “Small Town, Small World

  1. Big cities are just a bunch of small towns linked together.

  2. Tiffany says:

    I am selfishly happy you are back in the big city, but I understand how good it feels to be surrounded by accepting community. I hadn’t experienced that until recently, and I don’t think I could easily give it up now. I’m not sure what I would do if my groups dissolved, or I lost the strong connections I’ve built over the last year.

    You are awesome, and your family is also awesome, so I am not surprised that people want to have you in their communities.

  3. I came from a small town, too. It’s interesting how so much of your description would fit it.

  4. Blog Fodder, I eight tenths agree with your observation. But I do think there can be differences between small towns and city neighborhoods. For instance, there are several “neighborhoods” in Colorado Springs in which it seems typical for neighbors to rarely interact with each other. My impression is, those tend to be newer neighborhoods.

    Again, even the most interactive neighborhood I’ve lived in here in the Springs has been full of more open diversity than my small home town. For example: There are a lot of openly gay people here. There was just one openly gay person in my home town of 2,500 people.

    Nevertheless, I mostly agree with you. City neighborhoods tend to be communities, quite similar in most ways to small towns.

    • prairienymph says:

      I find that in cities, the common community bond isn’t geographic location and history but values. I would have thought that spending time with people because we shared ideas or circumstances instead of neighbourhoods that my world would get more homogeneous. However I have a greater variety of friends than I did. I have the parents whose kids share a preschool or park with mine, the people I work with who are mostly immigrants who value holistic health practices, and the ones I go to school with who are fabulously nerdy and pro healthy sexuality.

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