This past week, with my husband out of town on business, I decided to spend some time with family. I packed myself and my 9-month-old girl into the car and we headed out of town on the hour and a half drive to my hometown. Population 800 (on a good day).
We didn’t have much planned other than a shopping trip to a nearby town and visiting with friends and family. My daughter got to spend time playing with five of her cousins and that wore her out. So on our second day there I had a very tired baby on my hands – one that wasn’t willing to take a nap in a pack-n-play outside of her home. I knew I was going to have to take extreme measures.
I packed her back into her car seat and set out on a two-hour ride around town.
As I first set out, it seemed like a daunting task ahead of me.
“What am I going to do driving around town for two hours?” I thought to myself.
I didn’t expect to see anything new or enlightening in a town that never seems to change. So, I began my driving tour of the town. I drove out to a new housing development only to discover a second one in full swing. These days, many young people are choosing to stay and live in their small towns — which have great schools — and make the 20-minute drive to one of the larger neighboring towns to work.
I also noticed how quiet the town was. It seemed to be asleep. With school back in session, the swimming pool (still full for nighttime swimming) sat empty, its water placid and smooth as glass. The main drag had some activity but since it was after the lunch hour, everyone was back at their desks or out in the field. Swing sets and backyards were devoid of little arms and legs crawling and running about. Not even a lawn mower could be heard doing its duty.
As I drove by my high school, I saw the practice football field neatly mowed but sitting as empty as the swimming pool.
I stopped my car to chat with an old friend who now manages the school cafeteria. As we chatted, the clock on the church steeple sounded. It was 3 p.m. And with that, things quickly changed.
Soon a rush of children flooded the sidewalks and streets out in front of the school. The air was once again filled with voices and laughter. It was as if the town had come back to life, awaken from its late summer slumber. Some children jumped into their parents’ vehicles for a ride home, some climbed into the school bus. Others walked home together, the sidewalks acting like veins spreading the life throughout the town.
All of this took me back to my days as a student there. The closer I got to graduation, the more I couldn’t wait to leave. But in my adult years, I have come to appreciate once again the town that is an unchanging anchor in my life. City living comes with a built-in fast pace. But when I come home, I physically feel my blood pressure drop.
Soon enough I heard some rustling in the back seat and naptime was over. I pointed my car towards my parents’ house and drove home. Later that night, on a walk with my sister and her 8-year-old boy, I asked my nephew if he liked living in a small town or if he thought he would like to live in the city better.
“I like it here,” he said. “It’s perfect!”
I asked him if he thought there was anything missing that he wishes was in town.
“Maybe a place to go and dig up dinosaur bones.”
I think he’s right. Other than that, it’s pretty much perfect.
Jodi Sunderman, a wife, mother, and brand marketing consultant, wrote this blog for momaha
Read more from Jodi, by clicking here.
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A few of the snapshots I took…
A photograph of the town’s church.
A glimpse of downtown life.
Grandma and the kids.
The school’s playground.
And, of course, the school.
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