Yesterday morning we attended one of the “big” churches in town. It was friendly as people came over to say hello. Robb had some guys that he is getting to know in his program come talk to him and I had three women come to say hello to me because they knew I was new not only to the church but to town. But then it happened. The young mother that had come over to say hello, introduced herself and then said, “You’re the couple from Chicago…I’ve heard about you.” What? She had no connection to Robb’s program or the school. She had just heard. and it wasn’t said casually but knowingly. What does that mean? What do I say to that? I’m thankful that those words didn’t come out of my mouth but the other woman next to her must have seen a puzzling look on my face and then she said, “You’re in Three Hills, darling.”
I have never lived in a small town. There is nothing in my experience that has educated me on living in a small town. I grew up in New Jersey (which I would like to point out that Robb has already discussed with me not driving ‘jersey’ all over town) I believe there are towns that can be considered tiny in number and some agricultural rural areas but there are too many people in New Jersey to really get a good and true taste of small town. I wasn’t even introduced to the concept of small town until I was in college. LITERALLY. I traveled with a music group all over the country and saw life being lived in many different ways and the idea of living “in” town or “out” of town was new. Anywhere else has not come close either. Until now…
We are in a definitive small town. I don’t even think I had perspective until my husband made reference to the town here only being half the size of the church we attended in Wheaton. If every single person in this town attended our Wheaton church on a Sunday morning, we would wonder why it was so empty because this whole town is HALF the church. In fact, Robb came home from class tonight and told me how someone was congratulated tonight for having the Three Hills New Year’s baby on…January 20th.
I think it has to do with anonymity. Anywhere I have ever lived or moved to, I have been anonymous. In fact, I remember the day in Wheaton that I commented how nice it was that I was recognizing faces and saying hello to people throughout the day as I was about town. However, that is very different from the opposite, being conspicuous. And that is what I am here. See, I think that I blend but anywhere i go; the store, library, aquatic center even video hut everyone knows that I’m new in town. And the worst part is…this is actually just dawning on me.
The other morning, pretty early, I had run over to main street, by myself to sign some things at an office before Robb had to go to class. I haven’t spent any time there (and with three small kids in tow and frigid weather, I likely won’t until spring) so as i walked out i just looked into a few windows, seeing what was there. As i turned to get back into my car, a woman watching me from a store window across the street caught my attention. After our eyes met, she looked down hurriedly and busied herself with something. There was no one else around. She was watching me.
oh my… If i’m going to be a darling in Three Hills now, I better get educated in this quickly.