Growing up in a small town, there were things I couldn't wait to shake off when I left. The gossip for one. I hated the feeling that people just didn't have anything better to do than talk about everyone else. The conformity for another - the most important thing to be was just like everyone else. The older I got, though, I realized that those things happen in the city, too, just on a bigger scale.
So now I'm a grown-up, and by some circuitous route, I wound up back in a small town. I loved the big city, I miss the big city - the pace, the culture, the friends I made there. But I've fallen for the charms of this little burg we call home. I've got some wonderful family here, and friends that I love, and my son is enjoying the charms of a small town - riding his bike around town, playing baseball, and excelling at a public school where everyone knows his name (and not because he's in trouble!).
Yesterday was one of those perfect days. There was a baseball game, first of all. He's been playing machine pitch baseball this summer and LOVES it. The first three games there are no outs, they don't keep score, and they keep pitching until the kids get a hit. The coaching staff is fantastic, and the emphasis is on learning, teamwork, and most of all, having FUN. It was the second game yesterday, and the thing I love most about watching these kids is that they are all heart. They cheer for each other from their toes, and it's magic to see the looks on their faces when they get a hit, or catch a ball. The field staff always acknowledge a job well done, a good effort and encourage them when they are struggling.
After the game, there was a nap on a big bed by a breezy window, and then we hopped into a car loaded with instruments and headed for Pop Culture, our little mainstreet soda shop hang out for an open mic. Joe-Henry hasn't performed at an open mic by himself in almost three years. He's going through a serious perfectionist streak, and it's breaking my heart. But he decided he wanted to perform on his yamaha electric piano. He practiced some songs he composed, and he killed. He had his own cheering section - my brother and his girlfriend came, as did two of our good friends. A kid couldn't feel more supported. But it was the rest of the crowd, the ones he didn't know that really made him feel proud. It was a pretty eclectic group of musicians and they all cheered and high-fived him, and his smile couldn't have been bigger when he was done. Charley performed two of his original songs, too. His songwriting and performing skills are so amazing, and I love hearing him in front of a crowd.
Afterward we stepped outside to see our little mainstreet packed with people watching beautiful vintage cars "cruising the gut".
It was a step back in time, and it made me remember and appreciate all the truly GREAT things about growing up in a small town.