A few months back, I wrote a blog post which was rooted in cynicism and, for lack of a better word, paranoia. In 438 words, I made quick work of summarizing what it felt like for me (and I learned many others based on both public and private feedback) to live in a small town. While I stand by what I wrote three month ago, I am not so completely jaded that I don’t see shreds of positive in sharing a closeness borne of choosing to live among approximately 9,000 people.
About a year ago, a new grocery store opened up in town. It is one of a chain of large and less-expensive grocers in the area. A wide swath of folks in my town used to go to the neighboring town to shop at its large and less-expensive grocer until we got one of our own.
Now instead of bumping into townspeople in the next town over, I see them after a much shorter drive. And, I see them a lot; because now that this store is so close, we shop there almost every day.
Yesterday, my spouse and I had a short list, which I suppose would be expected considering our frequent trips. We figured we’d be in and out in fewer than twenty minutes.
We happened to bump into two couples whom we met through our children. Eight years ago, Couple #1’s 2nd child and our 3rd started preschool together; Couple #2 we met close to a decade ago when I coached their 2nd and our 1st when they were just six years old. Our lives have overlapped and intersected not infrequently in the last many years, but not so much that there was ever a strong sense of camaraderie that led to a deep friendship. However, whenever I see any of the four of them, I am always happy to stop and chat and hear how their children are doing and how their lives are going. I get the sense that they’re pleased to see me and Rob, too.
On the way out the door of the grocer yesterday, I felt quite the opposite as to how I had last season when I expounded on the “curse of small town living.”
Although there is the residue of those feelings, there’s also the good fortune to live in a place where the lack of anonymity can support a meaningful, albeit short, conversation with others in the dairy aisle.