Sunday, September 20, 2015

Utah 2015: My Small Town Through New Eyes

I once used the term "painfully small" to describe my hometown. My father asked me to expound upon that. I never did. There was nothing painful about the size of my town growing up. I LOOOOOOOVED it. I'm probably a bit over dramatic about how lovely and perfect and wonderful and amazing my childhood was. And I credit most of that to the painfully small town where I grew up.

But growing up I always "wanted out." At the time I didn't even really know what "wanting out" meant. I just remember always telling people I wanted to grow up and live in a community just like Delta but not in Utah. I loved the community I belonged to, but I didn't love the homogeneity of it. I also had this deep desire to view that little community with "outsider" eyes. After week long trips out of town I'd always try and pretend like I was a new comer, seeing main street for the first time. It never really worked. It always felt like the exact same place I'd left just the week before.

And though it does feel different now, I realize a combination of things make that so. I mean, after 15 years it truly is different. There are new businesses, new museums, and even a new school (a couple years ago Reid and I watched as an excavator tore down one of my favorite HS classrooms -- it was pretty awesome). There are new subdivisions and new people, lots of new people. As a kid I felt like I knew EVERYONE, and now I definitely do not.

The other factor that makes it feel different is that I am different. All I knew growing up was my safe and comfy little community. I rarely traveled out of state, but I spent plenty of time wondering about the world outside of Utah's boundaries. Now, I feel like I have a sense of the world beyond Utah, and that helps me understand my lovely little community even better.

I love it even more. I marvel at it's uniqueness. People often ask me if I could ever live somewhere like that again, now that I've had such quick and easy access to shopping and entertainment and city life, and the answer is yes. Without skipping a beat I say yes.

I probably never will, but that isn't the point. The point is I could. I've seen the cities and the economic opportunities and the ease of having constant consumption at my finger tips -- and it is not grander than community.

When Ben and I went Grocery shopping on Saturday I spotted a childhood friend I hadn't seen since my wedding reception. Though we know little of each other now, I was able to tell Ben so many good and wonderful things about this individual. How special to have someone randomly remember that in 5th grade, you stood up to bullies. And though many years have passed since then, I know that kind of character rarely breaks, and it did still show in her kind smile.

On Sunday we decided to attend Church out in the small farming community where I grew up. The first person we saw when we walked in the door was a boy my parents always teased me about during my elementary years. We sat behind an old childhood friend, who I occasionally skipped Sunday School with. Twenty years later her father was (once again) our Sunday School teacher, and just as if we were still teenagers he asked me, beaming, what I wanted more than anything else, and I happily answered "The Gift of the Holy Ghost." It was a great lesson in my youth; one that has always stuck with me. It was fun to see old faces and places, even when time has changed so many things.

I had a lunch date with two of my dearest friends on Monday.
It doesn't matter that nearly 15 years have passed since we each packed up and set out on our own (none of us live in Delta now), we still share such strong roots and those roots unite us. We sat at our booth for nearly four hours and still left so many things unsaid and so many topics ignored. We didn't even share that many "remember when" stories. With old friends as cherished as these you just pick up right where you left off and share your current joys and sorrows with one another.

Tuesday afternoon as my children and spouse were napping I flipped through my childhood scrapbook. When I got to the Middle School years I was dying. There were so many random pictures of friends who ended up being spouses. Plus, it was middle school and by nature it is so awkwardly awesome. As I was laughing to myself I decided I wanted to share this moment with at least one of those friendly faces, so I ran across the street and chatted with a childhood friend who is raising her six kids right across from my parents. Later that evening another face from those scrapbook pages stopped me in the garage and we chatted for a good ten minutes.

Wednesday morning we took the kids to library story hour, which was taught by none other than my very own sister-in-law. Reid was in heaven because it was animal themed. One mother remarked how impressed she was by his knowledge of obscure animals. I chuckled and gave credit where credit is due: Wild Krats. And I just couldn't get over how familiar she looked. Then it dawned on me. I'd babysat her (only about three times) as a child. For the life of me I could not remember her name, but I do remember how much she loved Wilbur from Charlotte's Web. I wonder if I looked even just a little bit familiar to her?

I definitely know I'm an outsider now. I don't belong to that community anymore, but it will always belong to me. And that makes it special. 

1 comment:

Pa said...

Indeed, the community will always belong to you! I loved the way you typed up this entry. You wax quite poetic my daughter. It made me love good old "Delda" even more! God bless Delta and Millard County -- land of our birth since the 1850s...
Love ya dear...

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