Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Small Towns

I grew up in the suburbs, about one hour from the city, 20 minutes from the nearest mall or movie theater. My first and second years of college, I attended a school that was smack dab in the middle of no where. It was a bit unnerving.

I really don't think that I am a country girl. I think living on a big stretch of land, with no nearby neighbors, would make me a bit crazy. I need people, noise, and a bit of hustle and bustle. The traffic, and not being able to eat at a restaurant without waiting, I could do without, but still.

Every time that Jim and I drive through the boonies, I become perplexed. (It amuses Jim). Then come the questions. "Where do these people buy groceries? Get a haircut? Buy gas? Where is the nearest hospital? What if there is an emergency? Who do the kids play with - those cows in the field? How can they stand it?"

I would consider our old house city living, to an extent. So, yes, there were plenty of people around, but I didn't know any of them. Even at our new house, although the neighbors have mostly all been friendly, I don't know them yet. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable going over to ask for a cup of sugar, (you know, if I baked).

I never thought I would like living in a small town, where everyone knew my business, and I couldn't walk down the street without someone stopping me to gossip about so and so. But, today I got a taste of small town living, and I must say, it was pretty delicious.

I started my new nanny job the week of Christmas. I work with two girls, one 6 and one 3, two days a week. Today was the first day I took the younger one to preschool. The preschool is in a very small town. I had 2 1/2 hours to kill, and very few options in this tiny place, so I stopped in the coffee shop first. Not a Starbucks, mind you, but a little, cozy, ma & pa coffee shop with tablecloths on the tables. The owner worked behind the counter. I know she is the owner because she introduced herself to me! She came over, after I sat down, asking me, "Is this your first time in town?" Her smile was warm and welcoming, and she shook my hand while introducing herself. When I left, I heard her say, "Hope we see you again, Jen!" I get the feeling she'll call me by name next Tuesday, if I return, which of course I will. She knew the names of all the other customers, and I could hear her greeting them. "Hi Bill! How's your wife? Mary! So good to see you! How was your Christmas?"

When I walked into the tiny library next, I was convinced I had stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. The librarian smiled at me as I entered, saying "Hello! How are you today?" I even got the feeling I could say more than "Fine" or "Good", and she would listen. We discussed the cold weather briefly, then she told me, "Let me know if you need anything".

There is a connection in small towns that is rare. It might be nice to walk down the street and have everyone know my name. It might be nice to feel connected to my neighbors. I might even enjoy hearing that gossip, especially if it's juicy.

***Thought you might like to know what happened after I wrote this. When it was time to pick up the little girl from preschool, I gathered my things and reached in my coat for my keys - no keys. I reached into my pant pockets - no keys. I looked in my purse - no keys. PANIC!! I went back to search the bathroom - no keys. I asked the librarian if anyone had turned keys in - no keys. She asked the other two employees - no keys.

Then, she talked me through where I had been. "Could they be in your car?" I ran out there and the car was locked. I had to lock it when I got out. At that moment the librarian, and two other people, (who I don't even think worked at the library), came out to look around my car to see if I dropped it. That is when the freezing rain started. We all rushed back inside and I searched again. I suddenly thought, "OMG, I'm gonna have to walk in the freezing rain to the school to pick her up, then call someone! I have FIVE MINUTES!!" Then, I had another thought - St. Anthony! (If you don't know about St. Anthony I will be telling that story another day). Honestly, one minute after praying to St. Anthony I took off my coat and checked the pocket in my sweatshirt - KEYS!!!

If I hadn't just moved all our crap into a new house, I'd probably be looking for a house in that town.


Kellan said...

Great post, Jen - I felt like I was right there with you - great writing! I love the idea of small town living, but could not live without my restaurants and malls - NOPE!

Have a good week - Kellan

The Girls' Mommy said...

Just 5 years ago I was LOVING living smack dab in the center of DC. No car, metro-ing every where. A big city girl for sure. But there's something about having kids that changes all of that. I have totally changed. I even emailed my old neighbor in DC the other day and asked her, "How do you get the kids to school?? Do you really WALK all 5 blocks? What if it rains??" I'll move to that small town with you.

Jonny's Mommy said...

See...this is why you should come visit me. I totally live in one of these small towns. Of course, you might have to ignore one or two old perverts who smell of alcohol, but otherwise...great place. :-)

hey, you're getting all fancy with your blog design. What is up with that? :-)

Like it, obviously! The key thing? Yeah, I have done this a lot. . . a.lot.

Laura said...

I think that even in a city there are small towns. People go to the same haunts, and after a while there is some of that small-town feeling with a city twist.

I can't imagine moving to a small town because there is no way I could be organized enough to think about what we are going to want to eat in two weeks. I can barely shop for two days worth of supplies.

Burgh Baby said...

Sounds like a great place for a lot of very interesting photos.

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

I used to visit small towns in West Virgina and one time on an interstate I had to stop my car to let a chicken cross the road. I KID YOU NOT and it totally freaked me out. I didn't really see a farm. There was a house sorta close but no FARM.

I always wonder about the gas thing ... like they have to tote it around with them in the car everywhere they go?

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

Oh ... and I so hear you on the LOOSING things.

Congrats on the new job - hope you love it (sounds like you are getting there).

Janet said...

Now you understand a bit why we live where we do. No restaurants, no malls, but if DeBoy drops a mitten somewhere I can call the library and they'll look for it because they know us.