I have lived in or around the same small town almost all my life. I hated it when I was a teen, thinking that there was nothing to do and nowhere to go, but I really love my town.
It isn't really anything special, just a few shops and a post office. There is one grocery store, a Subway, and a McDonald's. Of course, neither Subway nor McD's were there when I was growing up. It's home, though.
On Friday, I went to pick up Little Sprout from my folks' place and we all decided to walk up to the bank to get our weekly banking done. It is only a quarter mile from my folks' place to the bank, so Little Sprout walked and we just took the stroller as 'insurance' in case she got tired or cold and wanted to ride.
We got to the bank, and Little Sprout giggled madly as she pushed the 'handicapped access' button to make the doors open automatically. We all hurried through the doors in an attempt to let as little cold wind in the building as possible, and were immediately greeted by the 'Bank Ladies' laughing at Little Sprout's antics. They asked how Big Sprout was doing, and how Dad and I were handling our strange work schedules.
Little Sprout ran to the corner where the toys are (yes, they have a toy corner at the BANK. How cool is that?!) and made herself comfortable while Dad and I took care of our business. As I was finishing my transaction with the teller, she sifted through the stickers she keeps in her drawer and picked out a special sticker for Little Sprout. Then she sifted through again, and sent one home for Big Sprout - "so she won't feel left out".
The teller at the next window shared stories of her grandson getting his hair cut, and gave me some pointers on how to get Little Sprout to hold still. We all chatted back and forth, and the whole bank seemed to get involved in our visit. It was good. It felt right.
A little later, I went to the post office to pick up my folks' mail on the way to run a few other errands. I made small talk with the folks working there, chatting about Big Sprout (they all remember her fondly) and laughing over Little Sprout's morning routine of 'getting Gunka's MAIL!". I ran into a woman that I worked with 10 years ago, and we got caught up on her family and how things are going at the old company. It took a lot longer to get the mail than it would have if I didn't know the folks there, but it was good.
The thing about small towns is that everything takes a little longer. Everyone waves as they drive past you walking up the street. You chit-chat with the cashier at the grocery store, and find out that her kid is having trouble in math. You mention that your friends' kid is involved in the math tutoring program, so phone numbers are exchanged to set up some tutoring sessions. You hear that your elderly neighbor has been struggling with health problems, so when you are mowing your lawn you just hop over the property line and mow theirs as well. In turn, when they are canning up their famous salsa they send over a couple of jars because they know that nothing makes you happier in a January blizzard than tortilla chips and spicy-hot salsa.
Small town living is good. Of course, there are the times when you would rather that everyone NOT know everything about your life, but all in all it is wonderful to feel like you have a place. It is so comforting to know that when you walk into the local cafe they know what your drink order will be, and don't raise their eyebrows over your desire to have mashed potatoes with your eggs in the morning. It's nice to know that the waitress will automatically take the ranch from Dad's order and put it on my plate, even though I forgot to order it, knowing that Dad never touches his.
I like my town. I like the people there. I like knowing that I am a part of something, even with all my little oddities...