Once upon a time (about two years ago), in a land far away (Webster, SD), I had the pleasure of being able to write a weekly column while serving as an intern to a small weekly newspaper. It wasn’t the greatest writing ever published. In fact it might have sucked, but all of the people who knew me enjoyed it because most of them enjoy me. So, I figured I’d post some of those old columns here. I hope all 3 of my readers enjoy it.
My first week in a truly small town
My daddy likes quotes.
Zen nonsense is what I have titled his specialty. For example, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it!”
I’ll leave you to gather your own wisdom from that as I change the subject … “Remember,” daddy said, “Wherever you go, there you are.
Well no matter where I am, I have always basically considered myself a small-town girl.
My hometown of Rapid City is no urban jungle. I have always been told that Rapid is a city with a small-town feel and I agree.
When I was in high school, however, Rapid City felt like the smallest town in the world, and I was certain it was the universal center for stupidity and despair.
In an attempt to escape my ‘small town’ I went to college in Oklahoma.
Whatever small-town-syndrome I had hoped to escape from followed me to Oklahoma and got worse.
Suddenly I was surrounded by strange creatures who barely spoke English through all of their “y’all”s and they constantly sat around talking!
I was aghast.
Still, the place had some charm. I couldn’t get within ten feet of a door without a man trying to open it for me and I learned that good conversation is the best passtime.
However, I couldn’t get over how close everyone was. People I didn’t even know would say hi to me in the supermarket.
Talk about a confusing start.
Eventually I learned that Oklahomans think saying hi is just being friendly.
After three years there, I transferred to SDSU. Brookings had even fewer of the city things I loved no IHOP or Taco Bell!
Even so, I persevered and got used to Bookings too, but I need an internship to graduate. Lucky me I found one.
“Where’s that?” my mom asked when I told her about the opportunity.
“South Dakota,” I said.
“But where in South Dakota?”
“Um, I don’t know, north of Brookings?”
With a little help from MapQuest.com I found Webster, and after a week here, I realize I was wrong. I am not a small-town girl.
I mean, I made it in Bartlesville and Brookings and I’ll make it here too, but I’ve been here a week and I feel like city folk.
Turns out I am an urbanite, and an awkward one at best. People have been telling me their business and asking me my business ever since I got here.
Maybe it isn’t the small town. Maybe I’ve just met a lot of extremely open people. Maybe that is just how Websterians try to be friendly.
Regardless, I find myself missing the ‘metropolis’ of Brookings and Bartlesville and Rapid City and Denver.
There is a kind of solitude that can only be found in the anonymity of a large city and sometimes solitude isn’t all that bad.
On the flipside I’ve made some of my greatest friends in small towns. Maybe the smaller the town the better the friends?
I’ll probably never figure it all out for sure, but I do have a point.
Here’s the point:
Everywhere I’ve ever lived has had pluses and minuses, and no town was “better” than another. Luckily, I’ve learned my preferences.
I’ve also learned that daddy was right when he said, “Wherever you go there you are.”