What Living In A Small Town Has Taught Me
Growing up in the small town of Radford, Virginia, a traffic jam consisted of five cars stuck behind a tractor. Living in a place like this can easily make one feel like they’re living in a fishbowl.
I was born 2 blocks from my house and have never been able to go anywhere in town without having a conversation with everyone in sight. Due to all of the annoying aspects of living in a place like this, I found myself at the young age of 11 swearing that I was ready to “get the hell out of here.” However, due to health issues that required me to stay with my parents for longer than I would’ve liked, I didn’t get to run away to a faraway state until later in life. This delayed departure began to alter my view on life in a small town and after moving out, I learned the true meaning of this and how special it is.
Here is my insider perspective on living in a small town:
School Spirit Is Hard To Come By
Most schools have school spirit, but not like the Radford Bobcats.
I have never known more of a feeling of school spirit like Radford’s anywhere else in this world.
For every sporting event, spacious bleachers turn into sardine cans.
In my high school career, I witnessed 5 state championships and the team’s ‘welcome home” to follow. When State Champs return to the city, no matter the hour, police begin the escort at the interstate with their sirens blaring, leading the team into the city limits. Once in town, Radford’s fire trucks begin alarming the city that the bus is coming! The whole city lines the streets leading to the high school ringing cowbells and honking car horns, bringing the bus to the celebratory party thrown in the school’s gym.
For a small town, this is an extravaganza.
Seeing a whole community come together to celebrate their High School seemed like a normal thing to me until I left. I haven't been able to find anything similar to a small town’s school spirit.
To most, friends are friends and family is family.
However, when living in a small town, friends become family and family is for life.
Every year for Christmas Eve, my whole family (about 25 of us) host a dinner. I can’t tell you how many people are invited to this family dinner that isn’t technically family, but over the years they have all become my adopted aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings.
I have found that most people in small towns seem to have the motto “The more the merrier!”
Every Christmas Eve, we usually end up with about 40+ people around our table celebrating as if we are all family because we are.
It’s Better To Keep Your Mouth Shut
Whether it's talking politics or crap, It’s best not to do it at all.
Word gets around and it gets around fast.
Best to not put yourself in a situation that could come back and bite you in the ass.
In the words of Kacey Musgraves, “Too small to be lying, way too small to cheat. Way too small for secrets ‘cause they’re way too hard to keep. ‘Cause somebody’s mama knows somebody’s cousin, and somebody’s sister knows somebody’s husband, and somebody’s daughter knows somebody’s brother, and around here we all look out for each other.”
All of my memories of living in Radford came flooding back when writing this post - good, bad and ugly. However, I am proud to be from my small town. It played a big part in making me who I am today.
Since moving away, I have learned that no matter where I end up, I will feel most comfortable after finding the perfect mixture of a big and small town. This will more than likely include a community that gives me the same support system and family aspect my hometown so graciously provided me, mixed with enough space to feel like my whole life is not on display for the world.
No matter how much I used to desire to leave, I do, at times, find myself wishing I was back home. Every reason I left, is every reason I go back.
“Thank God for hometowns and all the love that makes them go round.
Thank God for the county lines that welcome you back in when you were dying to get out.
Thank God for church pews and all the faces that won’t forget you
Cause when you’re lost out in the crazy world, you’ve got somewhere to go and get found.
Thank God for hometowns.”