I kinda, sorta grew up in a small town, and I kinda, sorta live in a small town now.
I say kinda, sorta about where I grew up because, while I did grow up in a small town, it is connected to a metropolitan area of about 500,000 if you add the population of all of the cities that run together.
I say kinda, sorta about where I live now, because the nearest small town is about four miles away. We aren’t even in a small town. We are in the country. I work in another small town, about 16 miles away.
This has been a change for me. As an adult, I’ve always lived in a fairly populated area. In fact, my last residence was a condo, so there was someone living literally on the other side of the wall. We longed for solitude, and we got it.
We have lived here for over four years. We are in a development, but we were the first to move in. We had the neighborhood to ourselves for the first six months. We now have a whopping three neighbors (three houses, to be accurate; so I guess if you count every resident, we have nine neighbors!).
During our first six months, we felt a little vulnerable with no neighbors. I was grateful to have our mean-looking dog for some protection (she looked mean – we didn’t advertise that she loved everyone, even strangers).
Growing up, my Grandparents lived in the country. I would laugh about them always wondering about the rare car that came down their road. “Who’s that? Oh, it’s Ted.” It seemed they always knew the car. It was an event, hurrying to the window to see who was driving by. Because we had so little traffic on our dead end road, we did the exact same thing. I had fond memories of my Grandmother whenever I would hurry to one of the few windows with a good view of the road yelling, “A car’s coming! Who’s that?!”
But, we got used to it. It’s nice and quiet, and now that we have a few neighbors, we feel less isolated.
What I have found interesting has been becoming part of the community that is the small town four miles away, and the small city that is about 10 miles away in the other direction. I seriously cannot go to Walmart in the small city or the Dollar General in the small town without seeing someone I know. In a small town, it doesn’t take long to get to know a large percentage of the population, especially if you have school-age and preschool-age kids, who also participate in outside activities.
I started going to the local salon about a year after we moved here, and something happened that could only happen in a small town. Our diaper bag had gone missing a couple of weeks earlier. My stylist was asking if I was from the area. I explained where we lived. The stylist at the next chair asked who my husband was. I told her his name. She said, “I cut his hair. Are you missing a diaper bag?” Yep. Small town. Love it.
At around the same time, we attended the Pumpkin Dash in town. It’s a race for the kids in their Halloween costumes. Within 10 minutes, we saw at least 10 people we knew. My son said, “All of my friends are here!”
Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like this kind of lifestyle. It’s pretty hard to be inconspicuous, and my introverted nature makes small-talk exhausting for me. But, the people are genuine and helpful.
Before I had kids, I lived in a city. Because I worked in HR, I didn’t feel I could hang out with colleagues outside of work. I had a very hard time making friends there. Here, I see the same people over and over, so it’s much easier to make a connection.
Small-town life . . . maybe it’s not for everyone, but I love it.