Monday, May 13, 2013

I Like My Town

When people talk about wanting to live in a small town, I know exactly what they mean.  Even if they may not.

Living in a small town isn’t idyllic.  It isn’t even enjoyable in a great many ways.  It’s just... different.   And sometimes that’s good, and sometimes it’s awful.  (Ironically, you’ll find tons of folks in rural areas that would kill to live in hyper-urban, steel-and-concrete settings.   I guess we all want contrast.)

So I find living in our pseudo-small town to be pretty interesting:  it’s almost what I’d consider a perfect hybrid between large and small:  the amenities of Large, the familiarity of Small.

And when you boil it down, familiarity is what the affinity for small towns is about.  Cheers had it right:  Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

These days, that's a rare thing.

Everyone needs to convince themselves they’re not simply one of the zillions of unnamed faces in a massive crowd.  So it’s pleasant when someone remembers what you typically order, or calls you by name.  The marketing dudes at SBUX have this down to a science.  It's an awesome social, connective experience to have someone write your name with a China marker on a paper cup.  As desperately sad as that is.

But it's great being known.  I mean, the sandwich sultans at Tony and Comically Expensive Grocery know they should hold the mayo.  The gal at the front knows my total usually sums to the same, exact amount of dollars and cents.  (No, I will not tell you.)  She repeatedly comments on this phenomenon.  Yes, she needs to stop.  Bygones.

I'm on a first name basis with every guy in the store where I buy my shirts.  Majesty says this means I go in there way too much.  She may have a valid point, but there's just no telling.

And seeing the same people in different contexts – even if they’re otherwise complete strangers – is comforting and familiar.

In the mornings, I’ll pass by the same people, walking the same dogs, on the same trails, at the same time.  There's this old ponytailed dude that could be developing a dog walking service.  It looks like dog Six Flags.  I run through this new, ritzy neighborhood and one day saw a car parked on the street that seemed really familiar. I realized it sits near mine every day in my parking garage.  It's still there every time I swing through that run route.

Folks will pass by in the gym, only to later appear in a restaurant, or walking down the street.  They’ve swapped out the That-works-for-NFL-receivers-but-is-waaaaaay-too-tight-for-you-man workout duds for a suit and tie.  I bump into church folks at the grocery store all the time.

There’s a huge sense of belonging in all of this, one that I hadn’t experienced in many years.  Again, I don’t know these people well, or in most cases, at all.  But it’s the sense that you are home, that you have a place, that you know a great deal about your little slice of the universe, that is tremendously comforting.

We’ve been here long enough to know who will open a house’s door on Halloween.  (And Jack knows which candy isn't worth the big huge dog that will rush you.I know which places on the street that look great in Christmas lights, and which will be entirely obscured in verdant, jungle-y growth during the summer.

All the time, friends say they saw me driving agressively on a certain street one day.

It’s nice.  Maybe even… idyllic.

Heck, it has to be idyllic when this kind of stuff is going on (courtesy of a Majesty intra-day text a long while back).  Observe:
Watching Jack and Hudson pretend is hilarious.  In about 10 min they have played ball, shot some elephants and lions with their bazookas (a.k.a. the biggest sticks they can find and carry), shot a canon at some pirates and now they are looking for elves.
 I like living here.  I like raising our kids here.  I like my town.

1 comment:

Roxanne said...

That is a rarity and and a gem these days. I went to a workshop recently where the presenter was talking about how kids need to be taught how to make decisions because, for their own safety, we have removed a lot of the decision making process from them. It's longer than that, but it's true. Having a place where they fit, and where you fit--making it a community even if these are folks you spend a lot of time with--makes it a place where they can learn to make decisions by watching you make some.The alternate is that many folks love seeing you and your brood heading down the street or walking on the sidewalk too. You love the whole world. . .boom-de-ah-dah.