I am intrigued by the notion of small towns.
Driving through them I am always amazed that people actually live in such tiny places. Of course, I spent a year in a town with a population of about 1700, give or take. And it was, well, TINY. Everyone knew everyone and because it was in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania and I was originally from the west (California and Idaho) people were, um, less than eager to pull me into their already-tight circle.
There was the stereotypical one light. And One grocery store (okay, two if you count the store that sold all dented boxes and cans and reeked of cigarette smoke since the people running it smoked…and the boxes also smelled, it was gross). There was a Main Street, a railroad track, two gas stations, a few (locally owned) pizza restaurants, several churches, the policeman who also moonlighted as one of the town’s basketball umpires, and references to highways like the 435 and the 620 and the 573. All those numbers made my brain hurt and I could never get them straight.
The difference is the “big” city (and by all accounts it was a big-ish city of about 80,000 but certainly nowhere near Los Angeles or Boston big) was only about twenty minutes away. Of course, a big pain in the ole butt to have to “trek” all the way into the big city in order to find a bookstore, Wal-Mart, pet supplies, the mall, and anything else this big-city-girl needed.
Needless to say, this Off-The-Beaten-Path-Detour to a small town on the east coast made this Los-Angeles-Born-Big-City-Girl realize that perhaps small town living was not meant for me. I remember driving into New York City one day and stepping off the bus and taking a deep breath, “Ahhh, I LOVE it here” were my first words. Meanwhile, my small town hairdresser said she lived in this small town her entire life and had never once been to NYC. Wha? Really? How? Why? I was confused.
As we drove recently from Idaho to the Oregon coast we drove through a many teeny tiny towns – population under a thousand – and no life to be seen for miles and towns that look like they are one closed grocery store away from becoming a ghost town.
I want to know, how do they grocery shop? What if they need a doctor or a hospital? Do they ever feel lonely? Does everyone really know everyone? Do people ever move away? Or, move into one of these really small towns? Where are the schools? What if you need a bookstore? Or a library? Or school supplies? Or frozen yogurt? Or have food delivered?
And I think, besides the grocery store question – because I am very concerned how these people find food to eat – is the biggest question of all: WHAT DO PEOPLE DO FOR A LIVING?
I am baffled and intrigued and curious every time I drive through one of these small towns and I’m sure my husband is tired of hearing me ask these (rhetorical) questions whenever we drive through a desolate looking town.
Do you live in a small town or know someone who has? Please share with me some of your insight…