I have a theory that small towns do a better job of fighting this affliction than do big cities, although I don’t think that we are immune to this condition by any means. But, having lived in both, there IS something special about knowing every single kid in your graduating class and being able to call the town locksmith, who also happens to be your friend’s Dad, when you lock your keys in your car at the grocery store…again. (Thanks Mr. Pruett) It’s one of the reasons I chose to raise my children in a small town versus a big city. I hoped that they would grow up with that same sense of belonging and community pride that is unique to small towns across America—an identification with a place that felt like home, surrounded by people who treated them like family. It’s as if entering the city limits the sign reads, “Welcome to Buchanan—There are no strangers here.”
I decided to test out this theory this past weekend. I wanted to answer the following question: Does my hometown offer a variety of ways that residents can interact with each other and feel connected to their neighbors?
As I conversed with other Moms about the upcoming school year and our last plans for summer, my husband reminisced with old classmates and laughed about memories from band class involving a strict (yet revered) Director and a not-so-compliant tuba player (not to mention any names…Matt Herman). Halfway into the evening I came across an unfamiliar face, someone I’d never seen in my town before. This woman (Jennifer) and her beautiful family had recently relocated to our little corner of Michigan as a result of an employment opportunity within the military. In true neighborly fashion, our host Tara had noticed the family walking by her house and introduced herself (subsequently finding out that their children were in the same class) and invited them to the gathering. This is the quintessential essence of small town life—making new people feel like old friends. Hopefully they felt welcomed into our community on Friday night, because we are certainly glad to have them here.
So that was my weekend around town. I can’t say it was an abnormal one either. There is usually something going on around here that involves a crowd. If you are new to town (or feeling a sense of anomie), come on down to the Farmer’s Market and talk to the locals or head over to the coffee house and chat with the kids behind the counter while ordering a signature beverage. And if you’re feeling adventurous, throw on your swimsuit and grab a tube and join the rest of us this upcoming weekend at the 1st Annual Summer Thrill on the Hill—a giant slip and slide down Front Street.
No need to feel alone here in Buchanan. After all, there are no strangers here