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small town

March 20, 2009

i have lived throughout these united states; i’ve known the blindingly rich and the folks so poor you don’t know where to begin to help them rise above their situation. here’s a list of all of the states in which i’ve lived (in no particular order): california, kansas, iowa, ohio, south carolina, maryland, virginia, new york, indiana, kentucky, tennessee, missouri, and the district of columbia (not a state, i know). having lived in both big cities (new york city, washington, d.c., san francisco) and small towns in many of the previously listed states, i have a unique perspective on the american experience. there are pros and cons no matter where you live, and i think this “small town” life truly is for me.

i suppose what i miss most about the “big city” experience are (1) the variety of restaurants and food stuffs at the grocery store, and the (2) anonymity. no restaurant, save one, in my local tri-town area knows how to make “sauce.” here’s a hint: you don’t put sugar in the sauce. stop doing that! the “international” section of the local supermarket has capers, sundried tomatoes and pinolis. i would love to get my hands on some panko without having to have the mr. bring it back with him on his frequent trips to the city. i need access to a real and authentic italian deli, but that’s not in my cards unless i want to drive for an least an hour. where oh where to get exquisite and oh-so-thin-sliced genoa? nowhere. how sad.

the anonymity part takes me back to when i worked in manhattan. no one gave a shit about me as i was walking about and doing my business; however, if i were in trouble, i know those same bystanders would jump in and help me, and then everyone would go back to what they were doing. here, everyone in the neighborhood knows my business and sometimes i can’t get out the door and just exist without at least five neighbors commenting on something. on the upside, there is little to no crime in my small town simply because everyone knows everyone. well, that, and the folks around here are proverbial white trash and they know how to throw down.

i suppose my happiness with small town life also has to do with my age. i’m in the 4th inning of my planned 9 (God willing); i’ve sown the oats, partied til the cows came home, etc. i’ve had enough junk up my nose and enough legal depressants to last me a lifetime. the indulgent sexcapades, the passing out on a friday night and waking up on a sunday (or was it monday morning?), the 3:00 a.m. skinny dips. life has been fun! my only vices now are cigarettes, the occasional tip of the tequila bottle, sex and poker. the kids around here? well, i see how the local kids are and i feel sorry for them; most of them will never leave this really small town of fewer than 20,000 people and most of them will never know what’s it like in new york city or chicago or atlanta. this is all they know, so they’re unable to make comparisons. do these baby faces dream about leaving this place and seeing what else is out there? from the looks of things on my block, the answer is no.

i’ll lift a few lines from john mellencamp’s “small town” before i depart:

i was born in a small town
and i can breathe in a small town
gonna die in a small town
oh that’s probably where they’ll bury me

right back atcha, from one “cougar” to another.

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