When I graduated high school a whole 10 (okay, 15) years ago, I wanted to leave. I wanted to get away from the tiny little town I grew up in. So the summer I graduated, I left. I moved to the Minneapolis area. I didn't know anyone. I had never driven in traffic like that (and never care to again.) It was scary, exhilarating, and lonely at times. But I made friends soon enough. I learned how to drive in the traffic. I can't say I fit in. I was lovingly referred to as the Amish girl. Everyone cracked jokes about my up-bringing and asked if I churned my own butter. For the record, no.
After school we moved back to our hometown area briefly, so Craig could finish college. And then we made the move to Omaha. Back to the city life I had missed. Being five minutes to the nearest Target. The hustle and bustle. Actual real-life strangers, seems odd when you grow up in a small town to think that you would go to the grocery store or mall and not see a single person that you know. I hated that when I was younger. Everyone always knew everyone else's business.
And now, here we are. Recently moved to a small town. Not as small as where I grew up, but the kids' school is pretty comparable. Craig says we live in the country. I tell him unless you have to take a dirt road and your nearest neighbor is a mile away, it's not really the country.
I was nervous, going back to the small town setting, about making friends. About being back in the everyone knows everyone. But I am happy to say, I've met an amazing group of friends here. And I actually love seeing people I know every time I go to the store. It may be the only adult contact I've had in hours!!!
There's a comfort here that I can't explain. Maybe it's the familiarity of the lifestyle. Where the kids go to school, the town reminds me so much of where I grew up. I was taken a little by surprise by how fast we all adjusted. Like we have always been here. I actually was teary-eyed the first week here, not because of the changes, but because when we drove by anyone, they waved. People I have never met. It was a simple gesture. But it had been SO long since that happened. Since everyone waved. Callie thought I was bonkers. But the tears rolled down my cheeks. I didn't even know I missed it.
So now that I'm older, now that I'm a mother, I am actually learning I prefer knowing everyone. I love that my kids can now go outside with no fences, and just get lost in play. They already have a trail worn to their friends' house, and a secret hideaway spot where their imagination can run wild. I feel safe because everyone knows everyone. Everyone looks out for each other's kids. I don't feel scared to let them go and explore. (Not true. Weston is not allowed out of my sight. If you've met him, you know why.) Now I see the value in the semi-country life. I am okay with a 30 minute drive to Target, because the trade off benefits my children.
To the younger me, I'm glad you went off and moved so far away, to a big city. It was an experience that will never be forgotten. But, I'm glad to feel home again.