Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Small Town Life

I like life in a small town. All my life I had lived in medium to large size cities: Huntsville, Nashville, Atlanta, Fairfax, VA (Washington D.C. metro area), and Baton Rouge. Then we moved here.

I had always been enchanted with the idea of small town life, especially after watching movies like "Doc Hollywood" and "Steel Magnolias" (two of my favorites!) I envisioned friendly, quirky neighbors who would bring us cookies when we moved in and invite us to join them on the porch in the evening. I envisioned happily shopping at mom-and-pop stores where the clerks knew you by name, and a church that would be delighted to have a young new family move in and get involved. So when we moved from Baton Rouge and settled in this relatively small town, I had high hopes. Reality, as usual, turned out to be somewhat different.

Before we moved here, I thought it would be great to shop at mom-and-pop stores rather than the big national chains. I quickly found myself frustrated with the lack of stores which I had always taken for granted: Michaels, Office Max, Marshalls or T.J. Max; large bookstores like Barnes & Noble or Books A Million. I found myself missing the cultural opportunities I had enjoyed for years: symphony concerts, national touring productions, and yes, Ice Capades. But the hardest thing was finding a place to "fit in". Although most people were friendly, most people had also lived here for all their lives and had well-established circles of family and friends. They didn't need to make room for newcomers and didn't recognize the longing we had to make connections. We found that members at the church we had joined did not welcome our new ideas with enthusiasm- we were seen as "outsiders" coming in with "progressive" ideas. We were disappointed and tried desperately to leave the area, but God shut every door. And slowly... things improved.

We found another church in town which had been through some enormous changes since we had first arrived. They were wounded by the previous few years and so were we, so it seemed a good place to start again. We got involved, and this church became family. And after spending years coaching sports teams, leading a 4-H club and scrapbooking workshops, and -for John- switching jobs a few times, we have finally found a place to "fit in". In the meantime, lots of stores also moved in: Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Office Max and Office Depot, LifeWay, Books A Million, Kohls, Gander Mountain, and many others. My shopping needs have been satisfied. In addition, the city has built a large performing arts center, so we now get all kinds of music and theater productions from across the nation. This is a great place to live and although there are things I still miss about the big city, there are also things I wouldn't trade for anything the big city had to offer. It has taken ten years, but we are delighted to call this small town "home".

Things I Like About Our Small Town

  • Whenever I go to the grocery, the mall, out to eat or yard-saling, I can just about count on running into someone I know
  • If I want to, I can yard-sale the whole city in about half a day (great yard sales too!)
  • We have one traffic jam a year: the interstate to the mall at Christmas time
  • I can get from one side of town to the other in 20 minutes
  • Great small-town festivals almost every month during the year
  • A beautiful old downtown filled with antique shops, art galleries and trendy restaurants
  • There's a good chance you've met your state representatives, the mayor, your congressman, and all the local newscasters
  • If my kids (or even I!) wanted to perform in the local theater productions, we could
  • My kids can sing in the Symphony Children's Chorus under a nationally known choral director for $80 a year instead of the $2200+ tuition that a big city Children's Chorus would charge
  • Drive-In Movies
  • If I accidentally forget to lock the door, it's no big deal

  • And Things I Still Miss About the Big City

  • All-night Jazz
  • A newspaper with more than three sections (two on Monday and four on Sundays)
  • Ice Capades
  • A Real Symphony (I admit it, I'm a symphony snob)
  • Home School Sports Leagues, Debate teams and Performance Groups
  • Science, Art and Children's Museums
  • A Zoo

  • Ethnic Diversity
  • Great Thrift Stores
  • Women's Health Clubs (with free babysitting!)
  • Libraries that don't have to get a good portion of the books I want through "inter-library loan"
  • Grocery stores with gourmet food and salad bars
  • Dollar Theaters
  • What would you add?


    Anonymous said...

    wow, you make it sound all the mor inviting!! i miss it so much. its all i really ever know until moving here. maybe one day.....???

    janjanmom said...

    Science, Art and Children's Museums

    Please please!!! A museum where my kids can touch things and not just look!! Fortunately we are surrounded by so many wildlife refuges and national parks to learn in.

    Ryan and Lesli said...


    You said what I was thinking. You have REAL animals & trees & the country. If our dreams aren't answered by moving back, my children will never know what animals look like outside of cages! All they will know is zoos!

    Lately I have been CRAVING the small town life. If it weren't for my great friends here, I think I would be going NUTS!!

    I am so thankful that you ladies know what you have and cherish it. :-)

    Maude said...

    How small is your small town? We just moved from a town of 2400 to a town of 100K. So I was picturing more of the 2400 size...but then you said it took 20 minutes to drive across town, so I wonder if it might be larger.

    Anyway, I LOVE not living in a small town anymore :) And I only have one reason -- everything is so CLOSE now! No more driving 1/2 hour just to go grocery shopping :) :) :)

    Sandy said...

    No, 2400 is a little too small for me too :-) If you include the surrounding county it's about 65,000. In Baton Rouge, we could get to a grocery quickly, but it would take a good half hour to get to church, friends' houses, the movies, the mall... I couldn't believe when we moved here and people talked like we were out in the boondocks because we lived on the "other" end of town!

    Anonymous said...

    We are in the mountains in Kentucky... We have to drive 2 hours to reach our daughter's pediatrician. I would love to be closer to good medical facilities. *Smile*

    Anonymous said...

    I found your blog via Lisa. I am also from Kentucky, but from the Eastern part and it is VERY small. I like it though, I feel that it is safer here for my kids and I can run around outside dressed in work clothes and not worry about who sees me lol.