Some might say it’s strange to know the names of everyone from my graduating class. For those who grew up in a small town, they’ll understand that it’s normal. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone also knows who your friends with, your parents and even your pet’s name. Most of us were on a first name basis with the police officers, as well as the cashiers at the local grocery store. New local restaurants quickly become the talk of the town, whether it is true or not. We wave to friends at stop lights, and sometimes teachers. After a few years of driving we all knew who drove what vehicle and could probably guess where they were going. Our parents knew we got into trouble before we could even tell them about it. Getting road work done takes what feels like years, and it requires a ribbon cutting ceremony before anyone can actually drive on it. Dogs tend to find their owners quickly through the town’s gossip page on facebook. That same facebook group is the place to go if you hear a loud boom, and are unsure if it is a firework or a gunshot. High School football is taken to a whole new level, pizza shops are around every corner, and the teachers who taught us also taught our parents.
I’ve gotten used to people not knowing my home town by name, and describing the nearest big city to explain where I come from. Then follows a conversation about the one other person they know from that area, normally asking if you know them. That big city I say I’m “from” couldn't be a larger lie. Horns only honk if it is absolutely necessary. There is no excuse for being late to school because of “traffic”, there’s only a few stop lights you could possibly get caught at. The biggest traffic concern is when a cow ends up wandering around, or the deer. Yeah...definitely the deer.
Those of you who grew up with a graduating class of 400 or more, you probably think this sounds awful. But for us who didn’t, it feels like home. It’s the town that everyone can’t wait to leave, but no one ever does. That “home” feeling can never be replaced by a big city, no matter how many people you’re surrounded by. When we were younger, we all felt “stuck”. Stuck in this small town with nothing to do, nothing to talk about, nothing to see. Stuck with the same people, everyday. Stuck is when you have nothing better to do but go to walmart (which is not even in your town). When finding a cornfield to hang out in is considered a typical saturday night, that kind of stuck. When we were younger we couldn’t wait to grow up, and move away. Some of us went away for college, and challenged ourselves to make new friends. Making new friends is hard when you’ve had the same ones for the first 18 years of your life.
Being from a small town also means having extra family for guidance, and a lot of extra love. Isn’t it strange that the town we once couldn’t wait to get out of, is so hard to leave? Small towns feel like family, and that isn't just because everyone is somehow related.