Thursday, October 29, 2015

Small Town Networks

     Well, I guess I’m on the verge of becoming a regular at the Y’s water aerobic classes.
At last I’ve found a form of exercise where I’m willing to work really hard since I can’t get sweaty. And if I feel like slacking off, no one’s the wiser, since most of what we do is underwater. Perfect. 

          Over the past couple of years we ladies have struck up M-W-F one-hour friendships. Even though we often don’t even know each other’s names, we chat away as we run in place (again, perfect – jiggles don’t show underwater) or paddle to the other end on water noodles. 

          Unlike my husband, I didn’t grow up in this small town. As a child, I lived in a big impersonal county – Arlington,Virginia – where military and government families came and went. After we were married we raised our family in the reasonably sizeable city of Springfield. So I’m still learning about the octopus of long-time connections in a small town. 

          I had been chatting last week with a nice grandmotherly lady and came home and mentioned this new acquaintance to my husband. He said, “Oh, I think she’s married to John so-and-so.” The next class, I enquired further. Not only had she married John so-and-so, but she grew up around the corner from my husband, and her father was best friends with one of his uncles, who also lived on that street. 

At home I learned more. Yes, my husband certainly remembered her husband. In high school, John had been a local bad boy complete with white t-shirts and rolled up sleeves, the better to hold his cigarettes. My guy still has a clear memory of being chased through the neighborhood at the wrong end of a baseball bat. 

          Time is a funny thing. My husband said the last time he saw his nemesis around town, John had evolved into a stooped and frail old man.


  1. I'm a "come here", too in a town of 680 "from here's." There are no street addresses; every house is called by its last owners name, or the one before. I live in the old Boyd house. Everyone is, minimum, someone's cousin. And there are deep rivalries and hatreds. Quite amusing.

  2. I spent quite a few years in a small town. And never, ever belonged - no matter how I tried. Not enough years I suppose. And they were right, I did move on.
    I am always intrigued at how many women were make-up and jewellery while doing water aerobics.

  3. I grew up in a small town, everyone knew my dad, so wherever I went I felt safe because if anything happened someone would let him know. But once I left, I knew I was never going back. I might eventually live in another small town, but not that one. Somewhere greener with earth that will grow more than prickly weeds.

  4. I have a love hate relationship with small towns. When I go back home to my VERY small town, I no longer know anyone. I feel as if I am visiting a museum. Her in the small town where I live, I am slowly getting to know folks, mostly of my background and that is a bit disconcerting. I like variety.

  5. How funny! It IS interesting to see how people are connected.

  6. I don't know whether Bellingham qualifies as a small town, but after seven years of regular Y membership, I always feel like I'm walking into a place with friends to work out. I know almost every face by now and have lots of real life friends because of the gym. Loved this post! :-)

  7. newcomer to a small town as well. I don't even try to get in with the locals (with few exceptions).

  8. My Dad was a well known and respected businessman in the small town where I grew up, and everybody knew and loved my Mother. We three kids had it made. I was "somebody". :) I grew up, moved away and have been a "nobody" ever since.


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