Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Because I'm not one for Small Town Editorial Submission

Small Towns... There is much to love and even more to hate about them. In theory, it would be nice to live in a community that reciprocates when help is lent, supports local businesses and citizens when feasible, and generally looks out for each other. Let's face it. There's no Stars Hollow, USA, no Luke willing to come and lend a hand around your house, no town meetings filled with hordes of fellow citizens willing to back you.

In reality, small towns too often turn into a huge high school scene filled with gossip and scrambling over one another to climb the tiny ladder. In reality, you might find your adult self, thirty years later, still dealing with the people who thought they were better than you. Small towns are incredibly overrated, particularly if it's one where you've resided for the entirety of your life. They leave you walking on eggshells, unable to confidently stand up for yourself for fear of severing ties with someone who holds the power to make your life miserable. It's rather exhausting and ridiculous if you want to know the truth.

Me? I live in my hometown and have for each and every one of my twenty six years. I will continue to live in the community for the next nine years as ordered by the family court system. So I know what I'm talking about. The perks from my childhood are even gone now. Where my parents felt safe letting me walk the few blocks to the public library after school, I would never consider allowing my daughter to do the same. She does not even ride the bus... because I can't imagine the debauchery that has grown from the "sex education" that I was subjected to (unbeknownst to my mother) on the afternoon rides home from school. The safety net that once was Small Town America has disintegrated, leaving me wondering what in the world people find to love about them...

Perhaps classics like Mellencamp's "Small Town" leave listeners with a sepia tinted nostalgia, allowing them to happily ignore the fact that the lyrics were inspired by the Seymour, Indiana circa 1985, not the small town streets of the 21st century.

5 comments:

Ashley said...

Amen, over, and over, and over. It's all true, even if you didn't live there your whole life...

Nel said...

This is exactly what I was talking about last Wednesday, well said!

Chrissy said...

I think it is so much different when you live in a small town you did not grow up in. Since I did not grow up here, I guess I don't know about some of the things that bother you (or Ashley, Nel, Tina, etc).

Now, I do agree about riding the bus or walking a few blocks away!

Your situation is different, but I guess I don't understand why people stay in a small town if they don't like it??

Ashley said...

I think that is partially what leads us to be unhappy in a small town Chrissy - each of us has reasons why we "can't" leave here...so we feel so very stuck!

Lincoln will NEVER leave STJ...something that is an odd situation in our marriage since we didn't think that we would ever move back here, so we never discussed living in STJ because we thought we would be in STL forever...

Amanda, Joseph, and Scottie said...

Amen! Here, here! I am sorry for those of you who are stuck. I didn't hate growing up in St. James, but I would not want to raise my child there if I didn't have to. I love having the ability to make my own way and build my own reputation, not based on what family I'm from or who I know and kiss up too. I saw my father take beatings in his career over and over again for standing up against the powerful. Truth does not always set you free in a small town. I enjoy where we are right now because my son can ride his bike around the block, go to friends houses, and explore with less restraint. But we have the ability to move him if a school isn't fitting his style and there is enough anonymity to give you the opportunity to prove yourself as opposed to already being slotted. Small towns have there perks, but personally, my husband and I left as quickly as we could manage and never looked back.