Tuesday, January 20

Culture Shock 72

It's always hard to find your place in a new situation. New school. New job. New town. New friends to make. New things to learn. It can be quite an adventure.

I have often changed circles in my life. I mean that I haven't had the same group of friends since kindergarten. I changed schools in 5th grade; then again in 7th; then of course for high school. Went away for college. Took a year off of real life to be a missionary. Worked for a bank. Substitute taught for a couple years. Moved quite a bit when I first got married.

Anyway, I say all of that to point out that I have not grown up with the same group of friends. I've known some people for a long time. I've had and still have friends that transcend all those life changes. But only a few.

And even if you've seen all the "small town" movies, there is nothing like experiencing it; nothing that could have prepared me for it. It's even hard to put into words. If you've seen the "small town" movies, I'm here to tell you, "Yes. It is like that." Everyone knows everything about you.

I'm still new, so I don't know all of the "old" family names and money, or the tragedies or marriage unions that have taken place over the years. The culture shock for me is sitting around a table, chatting with new friends, when the conversation topic goes on to someone I don't know. No big deal there, but that everyone knows this person or at least their cousin gets me thinking about the small town aspect.

You can never be anonymous in a small town. You won't be forgotten. It's hard to make a mistake and go unnoticed. But if your family needs help, it's there. Give and take. I'm sure it is annoying to have everyone know your business. And I do know the feeling of trying to grow up and change but having people not see the new you, only wanting to remember your mistakes.

It's difficult to stay in the conversation at that round table when you don't know everyone in town. I try to follow who is related to who but I really just want to get to know you, the one at the table, the one next to me; not Joe Smith who left town 5 years ago and has a new baby. I understand that is interesting news to some at the table, but it is hard to stay involved in the conversation when you don't know who is being talked about.

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