for anyone who has snubbed small towns

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.

chalk heart

(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.

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16 thoughts on “for anyone who has snubbed small towns

  1. Guilty. You’re totally right. Community vs. location has been on my mind a lot lately. Have you read this article? It’s not all about the value of small towns vs. big cities, but it IS about community vs. anything else that draws you to a place. Ambition and work can be good. But I think community might be better. (And I agree- I think this is equally possible in big cities- but knowing your neighbor takes commitment, wherever you may be.)
    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/relationships-are-more-important-than-ambition/275025/

  2. PS- my favorite quote from the article: “The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

  3. Sometimes I miss Rockingham, and CC. That was my very first church home. I adore my home church now, but with 400+ members, it sometimes feels like you get lost. Thumbs up for small town charm!

  4. Another good one L! I l enjoy your posts, and as I’m doing “shore duty” in St Louis (which I do enjoy), it is great to be reminded of what I miss about Rockingham. Ironically, most of the “city dwellers” fight to get out to the “County” or “burbs.”

  5. I live in Charlotte, but I’d like to add what I miss about Rockingham…less crime and less traffic!

    • I don’t know how the crime rates work out, but I definitely appreciate not having to drive in 4-lane traffic every day. I used to zip around on I-40 in the Triangle with ease, but now I get a little tense. Either I’m older and more aware of danger, or I’ve just acclimated to easy traffic. Maybe both.

  6. As a teenager, I would tell my grandmother I could NEVER live in a town as small as her’s. Now, I live in a small town like you describe and couldn’t imagine life any other way. It’s truly amazing.

  7. I have had enough small town to last a life time. I’m not knocking small towns, they have their perks. But so do cities. I’m not saying I’m meant for big city living, but I am most assuredly not meant for Ellerbe.

    • Yup, Katie, I hear you. My hope with this post was to say that small towns are not inherently inferior to larger ones. But I agree with you that people are often individually suited to some places more than others. (Like a pro surfer probably doesn’t want to live in AZ.) I hope that wherever you are, you’ll find things that you love and stay focused on them.

  8. I was born and raised in Rockingham, NC. There is not a better town to be from. I now live in Seattle, WA and am miserable. If I could, I would moved back in a heartbeat. I loved walking down the street and knowing everyone. I miss the friendly and warm people. I miss the warm weather and sitting out on my front porch in rocking chairs and waving to people as they walk the neighborhood. I miss my church where my father was pastor for 28 years. They were my second family. Don’t ever let anyone put you down because you are from some “small hick town”. I’m proud of Rockingham. I would never change it.

    • Hi, Mary! What fun to hear from you. (Do you remember me? I was your backyard neighbor many years ago on Cumberland Circle.) Where did your dad pastor?

  9. I love it! I’m from a big city but I have family in a small town and I love the change in environment. Of course, I don’t think I’d be able to leave for a small town but I would never snub them. 😉

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