I grew up in a small town. I learned to drive in a small town. I went to school in one and learned to kiss in one. I learned how to get into trouble in a small town. I spent my whole life trying to get out of this very small town…this very one that I’m in right now.
And when I graduated from high school, I did. I left. Only to return and go and return and go and return again. After 27 years, I have learned to love my small town – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s interesting, though, to see where my peers ended up and what they have ended up doing.
It seems growing up, there were kids in my small town that seemed to know who they were from birth. They didn’t need to find themselves. They knew who they wanted to be, had their own style, their own way. If they wanted to leave, they did. If they wanted to stay (or return) they did that also. Some are still drifters just as they were in high school, hippies floating from place to place. Some are adventurers. Some are professionals. Some are still partyers. Some have kids and aren’t married. Some have kids and are. Some have no kids and are not married. Some have even died. In the 10 years that we have been out of high school, the people that were in my class are really no different. The town that I grew up in is still small and not too much different than it was before I left. The ones who knew exactly who they were, still do.
Yes, we’ve aged, matured even. But I know that I still don’t know who I am or what I want to be. I know that I still wouldn’t fit in in any one clique. I know that I still compare myself to others and that my confidence (while at least now it does exist) often wanes. When I graduated from high school I couldn’t leave dust trails fast enough. I just couldn’t get out of this wretched town fast enough. I was destined to be a professional city girl. I know now that that is not my path. I’m a small town girl. I love knowing everyone. I love them knowing me. I love that if I’m in trouble, I have people who are willing to help. Our community will pull together. I love that my family is here. My memories are here – good and bad. My life was built here. I know every inch of this small town, every crack in the sidewalk, every cross in the road. It’s cozy and comfortable and safe…well, for the most part. I want to travel the world some day. I want to have opportunities to see things and do things and for our children to too. But I think, wherever we land, if it’s not in this same small town, I will always want to live in a small town where the families are tight knit and the stores are close by, where the tractors roam, and where the dogs can run free, where the post office is within walking distance, and where my family will be.
Each year that goes by is one less year that I have to figure this life out, one less year to really figure me out. So, at the very least, while I may still not know who I am, what I’m doing, or where I’m going, I do know where I am and that for right now at least, I am a small town girl. Here’s to another year of….figuring things out.