Small towns

There are places

where clouds draw tourists

and millions and millions of stars grace the night.

There are places

where you wake up to birds chirping

and the only traffic you hear

is the tractors churning up the earth.

There are places

where women grow their hair long

and men’s arms turn red

while hanging out of trucks

because a rolled down window

is the only air conditioning you’ll ever need.

There are places

where the dust is more polluting than the smog.

Places where

the tress out grow the buildings

and the buildings out grow you.

Places where

the summers go on and on

and the country meets the sky.

Places where

you know every face

and strangers yield their right of way.

Places where a neighbor is family

and an open field

is a child’s favorite toy.

Places where

you can smell nature

and feel the sun.

Places where

every road, house, park, street corner

has a memory.

Places where

strangers smile,

men bow their hats,

open doors,

pull out chairs,

and call their wives ‘mamma.’

There are places

where the night is peaceful and silent.

The night harbors animal conversations.

The night is dark.

There are places where the county fair is the main event

and your best friend

is the greatest celebrity you know.

There are places

where tight jeans

and cowboy hats are welcomed

and men work hard.

There are places

where no one’s talking about war

but gossip fills the void.

There are places

where small minds run rapid

and you think your mother may just suffocate you.

There are places

where the football team defines you

and you wear their colors proudly.

There are places

where your dreams are vast

and the land is wild.

And there are days

where I can’t help but smile

because there are places like this.

I call them small towns.

I wrote this poem in the summer on a pad of paper with a pencil. I didn’t have a laptop or a smart phone to write it another way. I was nineteen years old. I’m now thirty five. I came across it today and smiled the deep kind of knowing smile; the kind your mom (okay, it’s probably your grandma) smiles when you think you know something, but really, they’re the one who knows the something. That’s the smile I smiled when I read this today.

When I was nineteen, I had the most epic spring break trip home with my college best friend. We were going to school in the big city of San Diego and we were both from ‘small towns’ in Northern California. The truth is, she was from a legit small town, with a population near about 2000. I was from a ‘small town’ with a population near 50,000. Either way, we both had such a blast taking each other to our respective old stomping grounds. I wrote this poem after returning to the big city.

We both just felt it was such a special joy to be from a small town. Compared to San Diego- nothing personal San Diego, I love you- both of our towns were absolutely minuscule.

What’s funny is… I wrote this poem about the small town I would one day come to live in when I was thirty five. As I read through it, I felt chills working their way through my whole body. I don’t really remember feeling this way about my hometown when I wrote the poem, and most of it isn’t really an accurate depiction of that town- more just a general concept- but reading the words, I can’t help but feel that much more at home here knowing it was somewhere deep inside me all those years ago.

There really is something special about a small town… something comforting and expected and uniform… and the longer I’m here, the more I know it’s where we were always headed.

How funny is life?

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