I grew up in a small town. And by small, I mean around 12,000 people. Many people often return there to raise a family, and it's a place where everyone knows everyone. However, after leaving home to attend college in a city, I had immense culture shock. I knew nobody, there were more than four restaurants to choose from for dinner and it took over 20 minutes just to get downtown. After chatting with other people from small towns across the U.S., I realized that there are certain experiences and memories that only small-town folk can relate to.
1. You knew every single person in your graduating class.
You also have probably known most of these people since kindergarten. Even if you have never had a full conversation with one of your classmates, you know he has two sisters, three cats and his mom's name is Lisa.
2. When you're telling people where you’re from and they don’t know where it is, you have to refer to other well-known surrounding towns.
"My town is really close to ____."
"Oh, I know where that is!"
Of course, you do.
3. When you go to the grocery store, you will see at least 3 people you know.
It's impossible to go run a quick errand. A five-minute trip to the grocery store turns into a 40-minute trip because you had to say hi to your best friend from third grade's mom (and catch up for 15 minutes).
4. Everyone knows everyone’s business.
"Did you hear that ____ got into Yale?" "Did you also hear that ____ and ____ are getting a divorce?"
5. Your ex is also your brother’s best friend’s sibling or lives around the corner from one of your good friends.
Did I mention that everyone knows everyone in a small town?
6. You have to venture to nearby towns to do anything: shopping, see a movie, go out to dinner, etc.
7. It takes less than five minutes to get from one end of town to the other.
If you drive for five minutes on the main road, you will most likely be in another (probably more lively) town nearby.
8. Late night drives around town is a popular activity.
If you're lucky, sometimes cops will start following you, too. (Because what other crime is happening in your town?)
I am who I am because of my small town. It has taught me the meaning of the word community and that family and friends are the most important things in life. I also know that if I come back 20 years from now, I would still recognize people anywhere I go.