I was still contemplating all the Hallmark Christmas movies I watched while recovering from my knee surgery when I came across a similar topic being discussed in Jenny Crusie’s blog. (http://arghink.com/2018/01/going-home-story/#more-20060) What’s with the allure of the small-town romance? Or the lure of returning home to the simpler life after living in the big city?
I haven’t lived in a big city since I moved to the suburbs when I was nine, and at that time what is now a suburb was more like the country. At least it seemed so to me at the time, and the encroachment of suburbia happened so gradually I didn’t really notice.
Even though there are some 50,000 people now living in my town, it still feels like a small town to me. It seems that everywhere I go, someone is connected to someone else in my life.
I walked into my dentist’s waiting room to find my vet waiting his turn. Several years ago, I walked into my obstetrician’s waiting room to find my vet’s wife waiting her turn. I walked into the hardware store to discover the owner went to grammar school with my brother.
I went to a birthday party for a relative and discovered that her best friend was the sister of one of my co-workers.
Whenever my husband and I go to a restaurant or even to the airport we run into someone he knows from the gym, or someone I know from work.
The six degrees of separation principle seems to be quite active in our lives. A few minutes spent talking to anyone almost always reveals that we have someone in common.
So even though we theoretically live in a large, impersonal suburb, we seem to be traveling in very small circles.
I can understand some of the issues people face when living in a small town. It’s somewhat disconcerting to realize how closely our neighbors are watching the daily trivia of our lives.
For instance, I was walking our puppy one day when a neighbor stopped me to comment about how I carried the dog. “I was looking in your window the other day and I saw you holding that dog. At first I thought you had another baby,” she said, as though it was perfectly natural not only to be peering through my blinds, but to give me her opinion about what she saw.
Another neighbor had some thoughts about a published author who lived on our street. “I don’t think she really writes those books,” she said. “I was going through her trash and I found a bunch of magazines with the same stories in them.” Discussion with my friend the author (and a suggestion that she be more careful in the timing of putting out her garbage) revealed that she’d just recycled a pile or Romantic Times magazines, which are full of book reviews. The horrifying aspect was that my nosy neighbor didn’t seem the slightest bit embarrassed to admit she’d been going through someone else’s trash.
On the one hand I find it comforting to be surrounded by people who are all connected in some way, while on the other hand I’d prefer if they were just a little bit less interested in the details of my daily life.
I’ve concluded that all romances are about small towns at heart—the circle of people who surround the characters form their own little world, whether the world is set on a farm or in a bustling metropolis.