Yesterday, I met one of my piano students at my little studio so we could video her audition for a summer music camp.
My husband brought the kids over when we were done. Shoot! I should have gotten everyone out of the house earlier, and we could have visited Discovery Place Kids directly across the street. They closed at 5 yesterday.
Instead, we walked to a arcade/bounce house play place caddy-corner from my studio. The owner was having to shut down due to a family emergency. No problem. We walked back to the van, grabbed a stroller, and headed to the library, which was about a block away.
A close family friend honked and waved as she passed us.
We checked out books, and the
librarian media specialist, who knew me by name, and I chatted about the details of my upcoming student recital to be held in a side room at the library. She invited me to bring my youngest to a weekly story time and encouraged me to organize some summer concerts with other local musicians. There’s a nice baby grand that only gets used once a year in that little side room. I’m on it!
Hm, now we needed a pack of crackers and some ponytail holders. Ah, yes – to the grocery store next to the bounce house place. Easy.
Back at the piano studio, which is just a front room in a much larger dance studio, my daughter changed for ballet, and the boys and I walked half a block to a mom-and-pops restaurant for a meeting we had to attend.
And that’s my short defense for why I love a small town.
(Oops. I put that meeting on the wrong date in Google Calendar, and mom-and-pops aren’t usually open on Tuesday nights. A three minute drive put us at McDonald’s, because they’re all fancy with a recent renovation and now have an indoor playground.)
“Defend? What’s to defend?” you ask.
I’ve heard more than I want to from folks who can only see what my small town is lacking. At times, I’ve allowed myself to feel inferior because of these tunnel vision kinds of remarks. I’ve even made them myself, especially as a teenager.
I think I’d love living in a larger city, too. Sure there is more, but wherever I live, I choose to grab hold of whatever good there is to appreciate.
It was during that bit of walking that I thought about this neighborhood that was being built in Chapel Hill during my last year or two there. It was deemed “innovative” and “progressive.” It was designed to be a small village in which you shouldn’t have to leave for much and you should be able to walk to get everywhere. Authentic community would develop.
Authentic community develops wherever people decide that it’s valuable. It happens in little country churches. It happens in university dorms. It happens online. It happens in MOPS groups in Dallas and AA meetings in Mayberry. (Maybe Otis Campbell and the Darling daddy would have hit it off?)
Knowing your neighbor and connecting in meaningful ways is not the exclusive privilege of small towns, and having plenty to appreciate and enjoy doesn’t need to be seen as the exclusive privilege of a metropolis.