There are many things I can and will eventually blog about my experiences returning home to this small town as an adult after leaving as a kid (who thought she was an adult).
Today’s truth about small towns comes from someone I knew as a small child who I was reintroduced to through Twitter. I believe that people come into our lives for a reason. The timing of her return is oddly perfect. After our chats and reading my blog, she wrote the following and posted it on Facebook. With her permission I am sharing it with you.
(I have also encouraged her to blog. She has a unique way of looking at the world based on some tough life experiences. I think there is something to be learned from her. Maybe she’ll at a minimum provide guest posts here!)
I will be certain to share any comments…. enjoy the words of my new-old friend Marcia Hunt Burdick:
Note about a Small Town – you may not like this
I’ve reconnected a friend from the past and it happened in such a random way. One of those, “You look just like this girl I knew years ago” situations and it turned out to be her. We talked, shared a little about our families and then she gave me a peek into her life. I mean her real life. She’s very open and honest about the path that has led her to where she is now. And even though we haven’t spoken in decades, I felt immediately connected to her. Not just because she’s hilarious and cool as shit but also because so many turning points in our lives were eerily similar. One major difference … she has returned home.
It’s never been a secret that I was not made for small town life. I craved invisibility, anonymity. That would have never happened in either town in which I lived as a kid. Since 1998 I have lived in major metropolitan areas and love it. I can go anywhere I want with a high probability that I will never see anyone I know. It really works for me. But to be honest, there has been one time when coming from a small town has been a comfort to me … when my Mom died. It helped me to be around people who knew and loved her as much as I did. They triggered a lot of good memories to get me through the most difficult time of my life. But even then the small town culture wasn’t put on hold. People judged me and my sister because of how we chose to care for her and protect her in her final days. Those people were not sitting at her kitchen table with her, discussing what SHE wanted and how SHE wanted us to help her. Many of the same people gossiped about us at the funeral and and the reception at the Moose afterwards. They were just lucky that I was too mentally exhausted to address it at the time. After this experience, I know without any uncertainty that I could never willingly live among those people again.
I also know it may not always be my choice. Like a lot of people, I am a few paychecks away from being homeless. Should I lose my job or become disabled, I may have to depend on my family. I know they would gladly help and I would gladly accept. But it would put me back in a small town. Where everyone would know the story of my downfall – or at least some story that has been created by the most cruel and childish game of Telephone imaginable. My life would be dissected and picked apart. Maybe the gossip mongers would feel entitled because they’ve known my family for 50 years or they’ve known me since I was “this high.” They aren’t. In fact, it should be the opposite. There’s no compassion, no sense of empathy but rather a feeding frenzy on someone who doesn’t fit the mold anymore. We went away, we changed, we aren’t one of them anymore … we are fair game. There is no warm “coming home” for us and that really sucks. Yes, we can go back and see our friends from school, stay a weekend and have a bunch of fun. But when we really need a safe haven, there’s none to be found outside the walls of our family’s homes.
So when you see someone return home under less than desirable circumstances, try to withhold judgement. You don’t know what that person has been through or what is happening in their life. You may see and you may hear but you still DO NOT KNOW what is happening in their heart and mind. If you were childhood friends, reach out and let them know you still care. But know that they have changed. Their life experiences could be vastly different than yours and they won’t be the same person that you graduated with. If the changes are not something in line with your personality or morals, then friendship won’t be possible but there’s no need to join the Mean Girls/Guys club either. Just mind your business. Unless their actions directly affect you, what they do or say is quite simply not your business.
We talk about kids bullying each other but sometimes the adults are just as bad, if not worse. Life is honestly too short – live your own life before it’s gone.
Marcia and I crossed paths again for a reason. Who knows ultimately what that may be. I am just grateful that she is someone I can talk to when life here gets me down because she is one of the few who “gets” it. I hope you enjoyed her words as much as I and possibly took something away from them. After all we’re all just trying to get by in life and if someone’s words can help in some small way, then we’re all better off!