|Mariah soaking up a little country life.|
|because who doesn't love a 1976 ford pickup with a topper that has a scenic painting on the back window of a bear in the woods?|
^Insert red face from embarrassment for not posting in forever and a light year^
Earlier this week one of my roommates from college visited the fam bam and I in Windom. Yes, the lovely Mariah came down from the cities to the visit the big W. At first I was flattered, obviously, because one of my seriously amazing roommates wanted to come visit me over her valuable summer vacation. Then I got nervous. And a little anxious and apprehensive. Suburban girl meets small town USA. Sounds like a reality television show gone horribly wrong. I knew right from the get-go that it would either be a love-it or hate-it kind of relationship. And as the director of first impressions here at the Friesen/Wilson corner of Windom, I really wanted to make it a great one. After working my way through the initial total-embarrassment of where I’m from, “I’m outta here” stage, I now embrace it and dare I say, even brag about it. God forbid she get here and hate it and everything I’ve built it up to be is one gigantic fallacy.
Much to my pleasure, as soon as Mariah got here, all apprehension fled my being. I just needed to show her what life’s like around here. And that I did. From long walks, to antique stores, to auctions, to many a DIY projects, to church softball, to the lake, to eateries and homemade cold pressed coffee, Mariah got a little taste of the heart of Windom. And guess what? I was dang proud. Proud of our community, the intentionality and the astounding heartfelt nature of the way in which we live. Safe to say, it was a hit.
During my initial weeks at college, squeaky freshman not much unlike myself asked each and every person they met where they were from. It was the question that came right after your name. It was unavoidable. When I answered with “Windom,” most stared at me. Hardcore. Like awkward staring. “It’s okay, most don’t know where that it,” I’d reassuringly whisper. During one of the more uncomfortable conversations, one individual told me how much it must have “sucked” growing up in a small town, to which I took offense and seriously questioned their “high class” city-life upbringing. I mean, who says that? Try to muster up an ounce of people skills, for the love of God.
Anyway, her comment really got this whole idea rolling around in my head. And you know what I concluded two years later? That individual was wrong and so are so many others. Real talk: small towns are one of the best kept secrets.
There’s this undeniable stereotype that those who live in small towns have “failed” and “can’t make it anywhere else.” That we’re all uneducated, lower middle class, toothless wonders, who drive beat up pickup trucks and lack social skills & etiquitte. And to that, the stereotype to which I used to cling so tightly to, I now laugh. Laugh at my ignorance & my foolishness. Yes, we have those people, but cities do as well. It’s just harder to cover it up here, because there’s nowhere to hide. Small towns have educated individuals, wealthy individuals, individuals who travel, individuals who drive nice cars (and pay for them & their houses in cash) and dare I say, like the arts too! Individuals who are making an effort to cast aside stereotypes to live intentionally in a small community in which they thrive. It is an inherent human desire to be needed, and around here, everyone has a place, and that in and of itself is a lovely idea. And you know what? I like my 1976 Ford pickup that gets eleven miles to the gallon. ‘Merica
I know it depends on the person, but for me, the more I’m active in city life, the more I crave the outdoors, and space, and intimate conversations, and coffee dates held at home instead of at Starbucks (gasp—who has ever heard of such a thing?) Please don’t misunderstand me, I adore city life. The art, music, food, entertainment add so much to my life during the school year. But, come summer (and vacations), I’m more than ready for the open highway and some green fields. I’m so much more creative when I have space—creative with my resources, time, relationships, skills, and dreams. Space to think and grow and create and investigate and learn. Oh, and can we talk about the quiet? My God, how I miss peace and quiet during the school year. To truly experience the sounds of nature is a truly breath-taking thing. And it stimulates me and gives me just the environment I need to think about things and see things in an entirely new light. Small towns in general have so much to offer the world, yet so many are too blind to see it. I was once too. But when you choose to see it, oh-my, what a beautiful thing it is. And if you let it, it will change you.
Now hold up here, I was (am) not referring to just Windom throughout this post, but to small towns in general. This also does not mean that I’m signing my life away, promising to reside in a small town, one small town, for the rest of my life. It is my desire to explore and grow and never cease to change and challenge myself. And I am over-the-moon excited to go to New York City for four months next spring for an internship of a lifetime. I plan to take in the experience in in its entirety and embrace city life and I trust I will learn multitudes about myself, and what I want out of this life. And I hope to live in other cities too someday if the opportunity presents itself, but there will always be a special place in my heart for small towns.
For now, these are my thoughts. Take it or leave it. Thanks again for visiting, Mariah. And happy Friday to you all! Your listening ears inspire me every day.