My nostalgia for times during which I have never lived is a bit odd. I get “nostalgic” for the 50s, when moms could stay home and wear pretty dresses and aprons all day, stay perfectly-coifed through any trial, and tuck Jimmy and Sally in with a lipsticked smile at 7:30 sharp. I get “nostalgic” for the riotous 20s, for snazzy cars, flapper dresses and long beads.
However, all these decades are superseded by one actual nostalgia: for my small hometown. It’s not necessarily the town itself that I long for, but for simpler, slower life. Where I grew up, no one “went out” for coffee, they “came over” for coffee. In the Twin Cities, it feels like an imposition to ask a friend over for coffee, because you know they have to drive 30 minutes to get to your house, and they would probably prefer their perfectly frothed Caribou.
In my small town, I could bike across town to my friend’s house in 4.5 minutes (call me anal meticulous efficient, I timed myself multiple times on different routes until I found the fastest one, over the old wooden bridge that is no longer there). Also, my parents didn’t have a problem with a 14-yr-old biking all the way across town on her own.
In my small town, we made our own fun. Bowling and one movie theater were about the only entertainment for a bunch of teenagers, so we got creative. We made our own movies, baked crazy cakes and pies, built Lego villages, played sports in the summer (golf, tennis, softball, volleyball, soccer), and even made up our own sports (ice blocking, shadow boxing, wallyball). We drove from train bridge to train bridge out in the country, sitting on gravel roads talking into the wee hours of the night waiting for a train to pass. We rollerbladed, played cards, held luaus, car-stuffed, and drove in “posses” down the main drag. A clump of 14 cars is a sight to behold in a town that shuts down at 10:00 p.m., let me tell ya! We all had SuperPumper mugs that we could get filled with cappucino or hot chocolate for 29 cents at the gas station. Sometimes we would sit there and drink it, but most often we would take it on the road with us. I still have my mug.
In my small town, we hung out at each other’s places of work. We would go to the local pizza parlor or video store and loiter until our friends got off. No one really cared.
In my small town, I knew all my neighbors. Here, unless I go knock on doors, we rarely see anyone outside. I run into the occasional neighbor in a park, but we don’t know each other’s business. At home, if someone’s grandmother died or they received some sort of award, you knew about it within minutes AND then you baked something for them. There’s something to be said for a bit of anonymity (small town gossip can also be hurtful), but I miss being “known.” Even in Fargo I would run into someone I knew almost every time I left the house.
In my small town, people helped. When we got hit with the big floods in 1997, everybody chipped in. We were at the local arena filling sandbags, at people’s homes building walls, opening homes to refugees from surrounding cities who had been hit even worse. Here I fear a type of Kitty Genovese syndrome, where people watch, frozen and heartless at their windows.
I don’t mean this post to be a slam on the Twin Cities. I know the Lord has brought us here for a reason, but I don’t think it is wrong to miss certain things. I even hold out hope that someday we will again live in a town or neighborhood that is close-knit and involved. Until then, I will cherish the memories I was able to make.
How does your community/neighborhood/town function? Is there anything you would change? Anything you miss from decades gone by?