I look at the people as the pass me on the street, smiling and saying hi to everyone they pass. I smile back although I could tell that people thought I was crazy. My smile was not a genuine smile it was more of a confused, "why are you talking to me" smile. I wasn't use to people stopping me and asking how the weather was, or if I was having a good day. But I guess when you live in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else, this was something that was usual, and if it was not done, it would seem odd.
But for someone who is used to living in a city, these acts of common courtesy are very odd. Because in the big city people are not stopping and asking how you are, people are pushing you out of the way, trying to get where they have to be without being late. But this is not something that is found in the small town that I am visiting, no, in this town there is a sense of calmness, which is unnerving and comforting all in the same. The calmness is comforting because there is no urgency or rush which is a constant presence in the city. But it is this constant rush which keeps me calm, keeps me alert and knowing that I have a goal that needs to be done. In the country my goals do not seem as important, they seem distant, they will eventually get done, just have to wait for them, there is no rush.
I look at my grandmother who is sitting beside me having a casual conversation with one of her many friends from off the street. I try and listen but its no use, I'm too preoccupied at smiling at all the people who smile at me.
My grandmother turns to me as her friend walks away, "Ohh, that Ms. Jacobs, always so full of herself, I wish I could tell her a piece of my mind." My grandmother whispers to me as the retreating figure of Ms. Jacobs enters the small corner store. "You know she had an affair on her husband, that's why she is alone now." My grandmother continues as she nods her head, and smirks slightly, "everyone in town knew about it the second it happened." Continued my grandmother as we got up and proceeded to walk back to her house.
I didn't reply I just smiled and nodded and held a shocked look on my face as my grandmother continued her story about the awful Ms. Jacobs. This was something that worried me about living in a small town. The fact that if you screw up once you are frowned upon by everyone because everyone will know what you did in a matter of hours. Nothing like the city where you could screw up as big as you like and just continue living your life knowing the people around you don't care what you did.
I continue listening to my grandmother's gossip as we pass by the small strip mall, the only one in the whole town. I look at the stores that occupy the small strip mall and notice that not one of them is a brand name story. They are all privately owned by people who live in the small town. There is not one Gap, or Beckers, instead there is a small clothing story called Cindy's Clothes, and a small corner store named after the town. I looked into the clothing store and found a lot of things that were similar to the clothing from a big name store that would be found in the city, but without the big name prices. I smile thinking about how I could buy a nice pair of jeans similar to jeans found in Gap without paying a fortune for them. But I knew I wouldn't, if there was one thing about the city wearing no name was not something that people usually do, it was either a well known name or nothing at all. Which in a way made me upset that everything was so black and white, there was no gray in the city like there was in a small town.
My grandmother finished her story as we stepped in her driveway and made our way to her front door. She smiles at me and offers to make me something to eat and some freshly squeezed lemonade. I smile back at her, then turn around as I hear the patter of small feet running behind me. I look at the children that are scattered in the street playing without a care in the world. People who live in the country lead a very different life compared to a person who lives a busy life in the city, but I wouldn't trade my city life for anything.