I recently wrote a post about how I feel about local businesses.
In that same vein, I’ve been doing some thinking. It’s a change for me. I don’t really think about my town that much.
For the relative whole of my life, I’ve lived in the same town. I’ve gone the same places, seen the same people. I used to hate it.
I think living here takes a certain type of person, or, well, certain types.
There are the types of people who are easily and naturally involved with everything, those drawly pageant girl belles who belong to auxiliaries and leagues and go to meetings with cucumber sandwiches. Girls who wake up every morning and curl their hair. Who bake in tanning beds and can wear pearls every day without it being ironic.
Then there are people like me. Misfit people who can fit in, but only for a time and only with great effort. People who can live in the same approximate area and never be recognized from one day to the next.
But you know, deep down, maybe we’re not even too different. I bet a lot of the same things hold meaning for us, just because of where we came from.
How Shiloh Road will never be anything other than The Strip.
How those first few muggy weekends of the fall still feel like football weather.
How the honeysuckle perfume in the summer heat can choke you.
How we know a magnolia blossom smells best right before it starts to wilt.
How the papermill smell can overpower the whole town.
How a slugburger from Borrum’s tastes distinctly different than one from the White Trolley.
How impassable the streets are on the day of the Christmas Parade.
At face value I suppose there’s a lot of ways the people of my town are different, just like anywhere else. One only has to see the variety of church denominations to know that, and maybe stand by and listen during a political rally.
But we’re more than our face value because of the common factors we share. No matter how much we resist our sameness, it’ll always be there. Like the railroad, or the red clay. We are a part of our own corner of the globe, and we forget how important our simple surroundings can be. How much they make us individuals in our own right.
But then…a flood. A storm.
We realize then that we all depend on the same things, because at those times it’s forced upon us.
And those times – when people are desperate, shocked and hurting – we are reminded that as different as we are, we are a part of the community.
No, we are the community. And if we don’t take care of each other and the memories that make up our shared identities, then no one will. It will be lost, and then all people will have to go by are Faulkner novels and Eudora Welty.
I don’t want it to be lost. I want my kids to grow up with the privilege of loving and hating their town, for the same reasons I did. I want to look back and be able to share memories with them. Memories of the same trees, roads, hills and buildings. Maybe even some of the same people.
So I’ve thought about all this. And I realize that as corny as it sounds, I think I like my small town.
Photos courtesy of Joshua Steen, who takes great pictures and makes cute babies.