Small Town

In no particular order, the town I grew up in is a cross between Cheers, Friends, and Schitt’s Creek. And for those reasons I both loved and hated it.

I didn’t like the screwed-up game of telephone; where everyone seemed to know a bit of information about everybody, but it mainly was distorted and missing pieces.

But a time I feared for the worst when a police officer caught me going too fast wasn’t so bad. After a look at my driver’s license he said, “You’re Steve’s daughter?”

I left with nothing more than a “Say hello to him for me.”

I “got out” – as they say – of my hometown for a time. I moved for college, then to a big city, and rarely went back to visit. And I think it was for the best.

But now that I’m older, I’m able to glean more of the town’s positives, like the community aspect of it.

Tonight’s adventure is a good example.

So, my family and I met a high school friend and his family for dinner. That the waiter is also the owner, and someone we’ve also known from high school kicked off the good community feeling.

Afterward, we left his children in charge of Evelyn and made the three-block walk to town.

The atmosphere in town is like an outdoor wedding reception in the fall. A significant part of the main drag is roped off with propane fire pits, Adirondack chairs, and strung lights that are an inviting area to socialize.

Our destination was the old Indian book store transformed into a renovated board game shop. On the wall behind the checkout counter a prominent blackboard displayed the week’s daily activities and it appears the place is quite the hangout. For $5 an hour, you reserve a table, grab games from a vault (before the bookstore, it was a bank), and play until your heart’s content.

After a generous amount of browsing, my friend bought a card game and gambled on a pack of Magic cards. He opened them with the owner (someone he knew), and together, we all watched to see if he won. When he didn’t, he told the owner to keep them, and we left.

Next door is The Mint, the final pitstop on our stroll. The couple’s daughter is the hostess and came outside to talk about her night, and countdown the minutes until she was off work. During this time, I learned that inside, working as the bartender is an old friend from high school. So it’s another friendly face, everybody knows your name, Kumbaya moment.

Anyway, you might think that the walk back was uneventful; you’d be wrong.

On the way, we stop to talk to a neighbor in a Mr. Wilson, Home Improvement over the fence kind of way. The conversation relays care instructions for his 115-year old dog with a urinating problem and promises of grapefruit brought back from wherever he’s headed as a gift.

Since this is the first time Dave and I have so casually left Evelyn alone like this, I am interested in how she’s fared, and hurry up the steps to my friends house.

Opening the door, I see a lighthearted nature and liveliness in the house. Evelyn is jumping, mats are rolled out, and she and their daughter are doing gymnastics and singing. We all enter and sit and chat a bit more before heading home.

Dave and I reflect on it all on the drive home. “I didn’t know how much I needed that,” he says. And I agreed, I didn’t either.

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