It wasn’t a typical Saturday afternoon. My sister and I had a lunch date, just the two of us. While driving through a small neighboring town, we decided to visit a local clothing boutique. We had just escaped the throes of motherhood for a few hours and our appearance likely proved it. Worn out T-shirts and no makeup but we didn’t care. As we approached the threshold of the boutique we were met by the owner of the store. She looked the part with a trendy dress, hair loosely clipped, tablet and clipboard in hand. She clearly was an in charge kind of woman.
She was quick to engage in conversation asking where we were from and making note of all the local events coming up. She was not from our area but had invested in this community as a way to give back to a small town. She entertained us for probably 15 minutes with stories of her children and how she stumbled upon this humble area tucked away in the mountains. While talking with her she said something that struck me. “I find small towns so intriguing and homey but I could never live here.” “I feel sorry for you with not much to do and so I want to help.” We smiled, thanked her for her investment and went on our way.
As we drove away I found myself feeling a little misunderstood. I wasn’t offended by any means but knew that I held a secret she was only dancing around. You are intrigued but you don’t know why? You feel comfortable and cozy but you just can’t put your finger on it. You can see all the problems of this small town but it just doesn’t add up. Why are there still smiling faces strolling the side walk? Why do some of these people choose to stay? For those of you who don’t know, I’ll let you in on our little secret.
We don’t want “something to do” every weekend. Sitting on the back porch while the kids run in the yard is what our fond memories are made of. Sure it seems less exciting but that “down to earth feeling” you are talking about is created here. There is a level of security found in the absence of distraction. We don’t fear the quiet moments for it is in these moments that we learn who we are, pass down our stories and values to the next generation and maintain that culture we hold so dear.
We love visiting the beautiful cities that surround us and partaking in all they have to offer. Your streets are busy and a sense of excitement comes with that. Day to day, however, nothing can replace seeing familiar faces as we stand in line at the post office, pick up tonights’ dinner at the grocery or run a quick errand in town. Friday night football is king here and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our small town festivals are endearing because they are built by the hands of the people who live here. You won’t find a corporate agenda or big time sponsors but rather pride in upholding a long standing tradition. Attending family dinner on Sunday is mandatory. Life will inevitably be tough at times. I assure you there is no place you would rather be. Sunday dinner is a safe place. A place where you are met with open arms.
My intention here is not to enter a competition. I am not arguing which way of life is best but simply to shed light on a misconception that small town life is a life full of missed opportunities and only chosen for lack of option. Some choose this life for the value they see in it, the intense culture that still remains and the beauty in the quietness of it. While focusing only on what a place lacks or the problems it carries, we often miss that the grass is greenest right in front of us.
Next time you have a chance, visit a small town close to you. Take in the charm. I promise it is there. If you live in a small town then I challenge you to sit down, relax and appreciate what is in front of you.
© Michael Shake | Dreamstime.com – Small Town Main Street