I grew up going to school in a small town. My graduating class was 29 students and while that was small, it was pretty typical of the area. Everyone knew what each other was doing, regardless if they needed to or not. Small town life at its finest.
Fast forward 25+ years, and we have the next installments of small town living.
Wednesday, I was to have driven my oldest daughter and a friend to Grinell, Iowa for three days of “music boot camp”. They are part of the Iowa Ambassadors of Music, a group of Iowa vocalists and band students who will be taking a 16 day, 7 country tour of Europe. They fly out on Sunday, and this camp was to get music practiced, learned, and get them all prepped for the trip. Well, we got stuff packed, in the car, and picked up the friend, but within three miles of doing this, we got a flat tire. *insert copious amounts of profanity here*
I call our friend, Laura, who is all ready taking kids down and beg spots for these two, which worked out well because they weren’t too far away. They show up and we get the kids loaded and off without too much issue. Now, I can change a flat time, I’ve done it before, so, after getting the kids off, it should be no big deal. Get the spare out, the jack, and the tire iron. Wait, where’s the tire iron??
No tire iron, but in the mean time, the friend has called her mom, and they just pulled up, so I’ll use their tire iron, right?
Tire iron doesn’t fit the jack! Ok, no big deal, I’ll just use your jack, your iron, and I’ll pop the lug nuts off and we’ll get this thing changed out. Ummmm, the lug nuts are not standard size, thus, the tire iron from the Chrysler minivan cannot work with the Nisson car.
So, I call a friend in town, Annette, who’s not home, but calls another friend of ours, Teresa, who comes over, and we find out her iron won’t work on my tire either. Luckily, the grandfather of a former student, who’s friends with Teresa, drives by, and happens to have an iron like this and sure enough, it works! I get the tire swapped out, spare on and head home.
The next day, I have to pay a bill, so I run down to the office where the mom of a daughter’s friend works. She’s watching me drive up in my truck and teases me about not wanting that little car anymore. So I ask if she knew about our great adventure, and she replies back, “Sure, I talked with Teresa last night at the softball game, and Laura was in here this morning all ready!”
My second small town story happened after I stopped at the above mentioned office. I next stopped at the grocery store and ran into one of our church members. Now, we are not exactly churchy people, but there are some awesome people whom we worship with, so it’s certainly a balance of getting up and having a leisurely coffee vs. going to church. Either way, this woman is one of those who you cannot help but smiling when you see her coming. I’ve had three of her grandkids in class, and have taken my class to her office a number of times. She asks how the cancer is (not much to tell there), but makes the comment about how we can take these challenges and use them to our advantage. There was a bible study she was doing and a pretty good story that she relayed to me, but at the end of the conversation, she gives me this tremendous hug and says “we are all praying for you,” right in the front entrance of the grocery store. One, wow, from crappy day yesterday to this?? I don’t care about your religious beliefs, to have someone pass those thoughts to you just makes you feel good, knowing that someone cares enough to tell you that. Two, it just reminded me how in a small town, these kinds of interactions are normal, everyday kinds of things, and that’s ok. I got friends who live in Chicago and the Twin Cities, and they’d be floored with something like that happened to them, or even having the chance to witness it.
There are times where I do think to myself, when my kids graduate from college, what next? Do I want to continue living where I’m at right now (three acres of heaven), do I want to move a little closer to a little bigger town (7,000 people) or do I want to move closer to a bigger city? When we lived in Missouri, we had the best of both worlds. We lived within 20 minutes of Columbia, a beautiful college campus, and two hours of both Kansas City and St. Louis. Here, we live within 30 minutes of a couple of small colleges, but the nearest “big city” is a solid 70 – 90 miles away. Somedays, I’d like to drive 5 minutes and see a movie, not 35 minutes, but that’s just me! 🙂
Where ever we end up, this was the place to raise our children. It has given them a security that many places don’t have. However, we’ve also tired to get them outside of this area too, because for some kids, that security is impossible to give up. We’ve told both daughters: got to college, travel, live life to its fullest, but you may feel that pull to move back closer to a small town.
Because in the end, this small town area, for all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, is a pretty neat place to raise a family. And honestly, you cannot beat the beauty of Northeast Iowa! 🙂