"A little bit of Mayberry, a dash of 'Gone with the Wind' and a whole lot of Hazard County."
I don't know where I found that quote but I love it. It fits my little Georgia town perfectly. I'm sure it actually fits a lot of small southern towns. My little town is so great and the irony of my life is the things I love about this town are also the things I hate about it. Isn't that just dandy?
I love going places and always running into someone I know... I hate going places and always having to talk to everyone. One night, a big city friend of mine was with me at a restaurant and he watched in amazement as I literally greeted everyone in the room and introduced him to about half. Then he was shocked when our waiter greeted me by name and asked about my parents. I remember being amused at his surprise but my thoughts are more along the lines of "I grew up here and have lived here for five years of my adult life... what do you expect?"
In a town of about 15000* you're bound to run into the same people over and over again. Plus I work at my family's business so as I learned the hard way in high school, I may not recognize them but they know my daddy.
Another friend of mine grew up in Atlanta and moved out here to be closer to her parents and their farm about 7 years ago. She's like me and has lived in Athens and then moved back here a couple of times. She's met a lot of people and is very friendly and outgoing. But she still remains shocked everytime she meets someone new and then finds out that I already know them. And it's not that I know everyone well but between all the members of my family and my job, I'm bound to have run into them at least once before in my life.
Even one of my referral sources at the hospital asked me how I knew everyone... I had brought her lunch and we were sitting in the cafeteria. Multiple people stopped to speak to me and tell her to be sure to give me business, etc. It was funny because she's not the most outgoing person so by the end of the lunch, she was overwhelmed. And she asked how I knew everyone.
And my friends love to hear how my parents knew when I misbehaved in high school, usually before I had even done whatever it was that we were plotting. I'll never forget the night a friend of mine and I drove up in my driveway to find both of our dads standing there waiting on us. Fortunately we hadn't actually done anything wrong... my mom had just assumed we were up to no good. We definitely paused halfway and contemplated pulling back out into the street - our hearts were in our throats.
I guess it's just a novel idea to people who don't grow up in small towns but it's one of my favorite things about living here. In contrast, when I was NYC the other weekend, I spent the first day wondering where all those people came from and where they lived. I have gotten to the point of being slightly overwhelmed by crowds.
Of course, I get disgusted by the segregation, not being able to buy alcohol, the lack of open-mindness, the gossip, and all the other smallness of a small town. But I also get turned off by crazy traffic, honking horns, dirty streets and people pushing into me on the subway. You take the good with the bad in every situation.
I feel fortunate to know of other places, to travel and explore, knowing I have roots running deep and strong. A place which supports and comforts me as I go through life. Because this is HOME... it's a feeling I can't put into words without sounding cheesy. When I drive up 138 and the fields start getting larger and the roadside starts getting greener, I know I'm almost there. And I always sigh, knowing the trip's almost over and that I'm back where everyone knows my name (and will tell my daddy what I've been doing wrong!).
*Depends on who you talk to and where you define the boundaries.