You’re walking down the familiar street. Tiny boutiques and family owned restaurants line the sidewalks. Every face you pass by is a familiar one, and you either know their first name, their last name, what street they live on or who their parents are. You associate their face with something you know about them. They might’ve held you as a baby, or maybe they were at your parents’ wedding. Hell, they might even be one of those distant, distant relatives. They recognize your face and give you a big smile, they might even stop you as you walk down the street. One thing leads to another and you realize the time has flown by. The entire town shuts down by 5 pm. The library and boutiques close down, your favorite coffee shop and even the ice cream parlor’s doors are closed for the night. And it’s now too late to get your errands done. If it’s after 5:30 pm in a place like this, don’t expect to go to the bank, stop in for some coffee or even get any shopping done.
Your parents grew up here. They were the town’s high school sweethearts and here they are, twenty-five years later and the flame is still burning. Your dad is still insanely close with the next door neighbors he grew up next too. Those neighbors and him might’ve been years apart and houses away from each other way back then, but now, they have some great stories that to this day still keep you falling out of your seat from laughing so hard. Your mom is a teacher at the tiny school up on the hill. She knows everyone and their mother around this place (literally). Everyone knows who you are because you’re a “spitting image of her” and you’ve heard it more than once and from more than one person. She remains the town’s sweetheart, not a mean bone in her body. She does anything for anyone without hesitation and she holds the trophy for the town’s best baking. Especially her gob cake. Your brother is quite the opposite from you. He excelled in every sport he played whether it was basketball, football, hockey or most importantly to him, baseball. He’s the silly goof that everyone loves because he takes after your mom with his heart of pure gold.
You live on the outskirts of town, giving you the perfect opportunity to grow up on ATV's and dirt bikes, shooting BB guns and running around in Daisy Duke cut-offs. Your house was always the perfect house where everyone wanted to be; between your mom’s food and your dad’s jokes, everyone loved to call your house their second home, and your parents their second parents.
Everyone in the town came together in crisis, they become one when it was necessary. If a parent was sick or was unable to taxi their kid to sports practices or school functions, it usually wasn’t hard to find someone more than willing to swing by and pick up the task without a problem.
This place is great, right? Wrong.
Growing up in a small town, going to a small school, you’re small minded. You attend school with only one hundred kids in your class. You have a limited pool of friends to choose from. Everyone knows your business and you can’t escape. You can’t get away. You’re stuck in a place where people only know what they are taught. They aren’t open to new ideas. They believe that what they believe is right. They believe that there is one way; their way.
For small town living, bullies are huge. Girls are mean. Parents are cruel. You’re not only limited in your friend choices, but you're limited in your soul mate choices. You’re limited in your dreams. Athletes don’t go D1 here. If they do, it’s a big deal and coaches like to take credit for natural born talent. People who are born here, stay here, no matter how different they claim they're going to be. They might think they're going to get out of the tight grasp of this choker necklace, but they won't.
A small town is perceived as the perfect place to grow up. A small town is the poster child for America. Living in a small town is a way everyone wants to grow up, but a small town is not where my children will be raised.