Monkey Toes and I live in the town where I was raised. I wasn't born here, but my family moved here in 1982 - I had just completed third grade. Monkey Toes grew up in the next town over, also moving there when he was in third grade. I have fond memories of growing up in a small town. We knew our neighbors very well and watched out for one another. Going into almost any business, patrons were greeted by name. The community would pull together in tragic situations, showing love and support for those in need. We even had a curfew, timed by the 10:00 PM siren. When that went off, we needed to be off the streets and home. One of my best child-hood friends lived kitty-corner from our backyard and we would play together daily - almost all day - and often we would wind up spending the night at one another's home. I think our parents just got use to the idea of having an extra child around. So, as a young person, small town living was great.
I lived away from home for 10 years. Once Monkey Toes and I became engaged, we had both agreed that we would never move back to our hometowns. The things that we loved about them are also the things that we didn't like about them - having no anonymity, people (other than family) knowing our business, not having the conveniences of bigger cities, etc. We wanted to live close enough to be able to visit family with ease, but far enough away to live our own lives. God had a different plan for us, and I can honestly say, I'm glad we listened to Him and followed.
Now that we are raising children, there is no other place I would rather be than home. My entire family lives within 10 minutes of each other. It's not unusual for family to stop by any day of the week. We've even had the experience of being gone and coming home to find family with our coffee pot on, sitting around our kitchen table. I sincerely love this! My kids are growing up, knowing and loving their extended family. That, in itself, is worth any of the sacrifices we thought we were making by moving back here nine years ago. I like going for walks, or bike rides, and waving to almost every car that passes (because we know them). When my dad passed away, we were abundantly blessed with visitors, food and offers to babysit from people within the community. So, although the closest Starbucks is 35 miles away, a shared cup of coffee at my kitchen table with a family member or a neighbor is priceless. As one of my former bosses (and priest) told me a long time ago, "you can take the girl out of the small town, but you can't take the small town out of the girl." I'm content being who I am.