In any big city, there are three different types of small town people: those who loved their town, those who hated it and those who are indifferent about it or just somewhere between love and hate. One can also find varying degrees of these types among the people living in small towns. There are those who hate it there and never leave, those who hate it and get out and those who love it and stay there their whole lives. I fall somewhere in the middle. I am a small town girl pursuing my dreams in the Big Apple. But then again, so are a lot of the people here.
I am from Salem, Virginia, which is only 14.5 square miles, 57.5 square miles if you consider the adjacent city, Roanoke, a part of it, which many of us do. I grew up in the heart of the Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The population of Salem is roughly 25,000, and a lot of the people I know hate it there. But chances are that most of them will live there until the day they die. Though I feel that's probably true of most small towns.
I wouldn't say I hated the place, but I wouldn't necessarily say I loved it, either. I always knew I didn't want to spend the rest of my life being a nobody in that town, which is why I'm going to school in New York City. Just the other day, someone I knew back home told me how lucky I am that I got out of there, but sometimes I'm not so sure that I agree with him. I often find myself missing home.
I miss the mountains. I miss the way they look like Cool Ranch Doritos when the leaves have changed colors in autumn. I miss hiking up to McAfee's Knob or Dragon's Tooth and having lunch at the top overlooking the valley, or hiking to the Cascades on a hot summer day to cool off by the waterfall. I miss how brightly the Roanoke Star shines from the top of Mill Mountain every night and how clearly I could see it from outside my house all the way across town in the winter when the trees had gone bare.
I miss the local businesses in downtown Salem and downtown Roanoke. I miss how the old buildings make the city feel a little old-timey and homey. I miss the farmers market on Saturday mornings and the delicious donuts some Amish people made fresh right there at the market each week. I miss the Salem Ice Cream Parlor and getting my favorite ice cream that I've never been able to find anywhere else. I miss going to the fair every summer. I miss going to see my friends in plays at the Mill Mountain Theatre. I miss going to concerts to see my friends' bands perform.
I miss going on adventures with my best friend and our cameras. I miss playing bizarre board games with her and her family or Capture the Flag in her neighborhood with our friends. I miss sitting around the fire pit eating pizza and sharing stories. I miss Olde Salem Days and selling lemonade and fudge in front of her house to the people parked on her street. I miss our ridiculously intense Halloween costumes which we never put less than 50,000 percent effort into. I miss the numerous absurd little jingles we would come up with. I miss our music lessons. I miss just walking into her house like I lived there. I miss pretending that I was a part of her family. I miss her.
I miss how my other best friend would call me from the car to tell me he was coming to pick me up to hang out without even asking me and wouldn't take no for an answer. I miss sitting on the couch eating tacos and watching Netflix or reminiscing about old times with him. I miss his weirdness that could always make me laugh when I was having a bad day. I miss hanging out with him in the mornings before school. I miss his crude and awful jokes he'd purposefully make just to make me uncomfortable. I miss staying up late and having deep conversations about life with him. I miss being able to count on him always being around when I didn't feel like being alone. I miss him.
I miss my boyfriend. I miss seeing his face. I miss hearing his voice. I miss holding his hand. I miss taking walks in the park with him. I miss going on picnics with him. I miss watching movies with him. I miss hugging him tight. I miss kissing his nose. I miss making PB&J sandwiches with him. I miss looking at the stars with him. I miss hearing him sing to me even though he knows he can't sing. I miss falling asleep on his chest to the sound of his heartbeat. I miss spending every spare moment with him. I miss being near him. I miss him.
I miss the place. I miss my friends. When I moved to New York City I traded mountains for skyscrapers, cars for crowded subways, leisure for speed, southern hospitality for big city indifference, people I know for complete strangers, fresh Amish donuts for Dunkin', Wal-Mart for no Wal-Mart. I miss the comfort and simplicity of life in a small town compared to the fast-paced and highly stressful atmosphere of life in the big city. Sometimes I just want to give up everything and go back home. But I know I can't do that. So for now, at least, I guess I'll just have to make do with visiting home every chance I get.