Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Winds of Change . . .

The following is an article I wrote nearly eight years ago as a guest columnist for our local paper. There is a reason I share it with you today. Changes are coming. But, before I delve into that, I give you a little about where I where I was and where I am today. Tomorrow I will share a little more . . .


* * *
I remember driving into town for the first time on an early summer evening. I saw the hills, some dotted with cows or horses. Small stores lined the street: a bakery, a barbershop and a quaint coffee shop. There was a park where families gathered at tables and children played on the swings. It was as if I had stepped back in time. I left the big lights, the bustling crowds, the towering concrete structures and the incredible shopping for…this. I didn’t know if I was ready for this kind of change.

During rush hour, or heck, any hour on one of Chicago’s many expressways and even the calmest and most patient person will have psychotic tendencies, but not here. I haven’t sat in traffic once since I arrived here. But I didn’t come to talk about the traffic. It brings back bad memories.


I could talk about how parking in this small Ohio Valley town is anywhere from 75-100% cheaper than in Chicago or Detroit. I could mention how I have never seen so many family and community events that seem to take place nearly every weekend. And then, there was the real county fair I attended this summer where I saw the largest pig in the world…I think anyway. Although I could go on forever about my small town versus big city experiences, it is something else that moved me to write this.

The people. I don’t know if it is the calmness of the river, the gently sloping hills, or simply that time just moves a bit slower here, but the people here are different. I am no expert. I hold no degrees in psychology or sociology, but I have lived in quite a few places before I came here. I’ve heard the hostility in the voices of children while walking to school in Detroit. I’ve seen the impatient crowds hurrying along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. I’ve walked out of a few stores in Atlanta after being shunned by busy store clerks. Although the culture, entertainment and shopping were often outstanding, it wasn’t always pretty.


The other day I walked into the store and witnessed a miracle, a small miracle, but significant nonetheless. The store was busy; after all, it is Christmas. A line started to form behind the only open register. I stepped in behind the last person and drew my usual sigh of despair. I learned to do that in Chicago where you were required to show your frustration with anything that didn’t move at the speed of light. At that moment I observed something amazing. People were talking…to each other. They were laughing and smiling. All I could think was, “Where am I?”

When my turn came at register the young lady smiled and said, “Hello, how are you?” She even waited for me to respond. There was no aggravation in her voice, no frustration in her movements as she placed my items in bags. I explained briefly to her that I had recently moved here and was amazed at how friendly most everyone was, regardless of the situation. She responded with something that was not unlike a piece of modern poetry, “Honey, that’s just the way we are.” With that she smiled, her voice hinted a bit of laughter.


When I first got here, I was a little worried. I didn’t know what to expect. But with these beautiful rolling hills in place of magnificent concrete structures, the infectious smile of a store clerk instead of the bustling crowds of the city and the mooing of a few cows in place of honking horns in traffic, I think I’ll be OK. To my friends in the city, please come and visit. You’ll love it. And, to that friendly store clerk with the infectious smile – Thank you.

21 comments:

Kori said...

That is beautiful, and one of the bigger reasons I still stay in this tiny town despite some of the drawbacks.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Lovely! I grew up in small towns and it is a whole other world. I find the city addicting though.

Nap Warden said...

Well, I grew up in small town USA. Now I live in The Big City. I can't go back...I love to visit though;)

CC said...

That sounds lovely! But oh! are you moving away?? Is that the news???

Tracey said...

Sweet. I can't handle small town living, but I'm glad you enjoy it!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You sure make it sound appealing.

Stella said...

Great article.

I grew up in a town where you could not walk down the street without running into someone you knew. It was nice. I miss that.

I'm so curious about what tomorrow holds for you and for us!!

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

I think your opinion has changed a bit, hasn't it? I feel like I live in the boonies and am on the edge of civilization where I am. I miss being IN the city.

Kathryn said...

That is gorgeous. Your writing is just beautiful!

Can't wait to hear your news. Moving? Baby? Writing for a paper?

I'm so bad at guessing. ;)

Karen MEG said...

What a lovely glimpse of smaller-town life. The hustle and bustle of big city... it does take a while to slow down.

So, I can't wait to find out what's going on!

Tranny Head said...

I can't wait to hear what's changing!

Eve Grey said...

Very nice.
I live somewhere in between the big city & country. Best of both worlds or just boring? Jury is still out.

LiteralDan said...

I don't think I want to go out to a town quite THAT small (I don't necessarily want to know EVERYone), but I do definitely want to have a little space and peace and quiet.

Can't wait to find out what's going on with you. I'm guessing a big move?

DYSFUNCTIONAL MOM said...

That's why I love living in a small Southern town. It's such a nice atmosphere.
I'm curious & excited about your news....

Lindsey said...

Well written article....of course, I expected nothing less!

Can't wait to know all about the "change"!

Inquiring minds....

Stacie said...

awe, it sounds wonderful ... I hope it still feels that way for you!

Colleen said...

Sounds like when I visit my family in Tennessee...I'll have random people (who invariably end up being a distant cousin) come up to me asking if I'm one of Mildred's grandkids. And I only get down there every 5-10 years. I miss it and wish my area was a little more like that.
I can't wait to hear what changes are in store, though!

Kim said...

One of my biggest dreams is to live in a small town like you discribed.

Sass E-mum said...

That's funny. Around here, we recognise Londoners by the way they 'tut'.

He he. It makes the locals laugh.

April said...

I can't handle small towns. But one of my favorite things is when I see these type of community moments in our very large metropolis. They're like small miracles.

Rachel H. said...

Such Suspense?? Maybe your big change is that you're moving closer to me by Cleveland?!?! :)

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