My boys are all gone tonight, Chris is working and Ailey was asleep by seven-thirty. With nothing but me, myself and a hot tub, I took advantage of some rare alone time. The brisk fall air raised goose bumps on my wet skin as I soaked in the hot water- watching the day fade into night. Crickets hummed all around me as an owl cried from the woods. It was lovely; completely serene. I smiled as cheers and a round of applause came from the local high school sports stadium. I could see the lights from my vantage point in the hot tub and relished in the comfort the sound brought. It was sweet. The home town high school game, be it soccer or football and the crowd cheering it on, was rather poignant.
It made me think about how fortunate I was to live here in this small town that was once a fairly remarkable city- in its day. A city that has lived and died with the railroad and the industry it brought with it. A small town now, that’s close to pristine lakes, world-renowned wineries, and reputable academic institutions- all surrounded by peacefully rolling hills that are rivaled in autumn when they’re painted in a gorgeous riot of color. This small town that grieved and cried together at the loss of a soldier, at the illness of many friends and for the heartache of countless others. A small town that has rallied together with an unfaltering spirit, fighting its way through severe economic hardship and instability. Showing the true testament to the strength of the people who live here. This town that has unfailingly dug deep into empty pockets, raising unprecedented amounts of money for charities and people in need, time after time. A town that rejoices and celebrates with heartfelt gusto despite all its adversity.
It’s like a big family. Made of people who don’t always like each other, who don’t always agree on politics or religion. People who are nosy and people who genuinely care. It’s a small town- where you see your children’s English teacher at a soccer game and their coach at the grocery store. People know who you are because they know your father’s, brother’s, wife’s, step uncle’s, mother’s, niece.
And even with all of its faults, it’s pretty wonderful to live here- in this small town. I made the choice, long ago, to leave a big city and move back home. To raise my children in a place where I don’t worry about my son riding his bike to the park, where I don’t have to apply for preschool at the time of their birth. Where there are still neighborhoods and neighbors who care. I’ll admit there are demons here, but there are fewer here than many other places. My husband and I travel with our children, exposing them to the world outside our small town. Be it Boston, Ireland or wherever else we decide to go, after our travel is done, it’s always nice to come back to our small town.
All this came to me as I sat in my hot tub, feeling pretty moony about life. It’s easy to do- hot tubs have that effect on you. But another part of it may just be that I’m easily contented. Far more than most, I’d say. It takes very little to make me happy, to make me appreciative. My husband is always saying, “I could give you an old wrapper of crushed up saltines and you’d think it was the greatest gift in the world. Just because I thought to give it to you.” And he’s right. I would be very touched by such a gesture. For all my rants about how much I hate people; the thoughtfulness of others is hugely impactful to me. Little things mean a lot. And there are a lot of little things about this small town that I really love. I guess you could say I’m thoroughly content with being a small town girl. Where the lights of the football stadium can be seen from my hot tub and the roar of the crowd tells me we’re up.
So I pulled myself out from the warm depths of my hot soak, as the words of John Mellechamp’s Small Town ran through my head, and sat down to write this out- to share it with all my small town friends. Of course tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll write another post about how much I want to move to Cape Cod. But for now- I’m all about my small town.
“Well I was born in a small town, And I live in a small town, Prob’ly die in a small town, Oh, those small communities-No I cannot forget where it is that I come from, I cannot forget the people who love me, Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town, And people let me be just what I want to be.”